How many Teslas crashed last year?
Tesla reports two more fatal Autopilot accidents to the NHTSA
Not a great look for the electric car company as drivers urged to remain alert
Wed 16 Nov 2022 // 18:30 UTC
Tesla’s automated driver assistance system (ADAS) is coming under fire again, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reporting two new fatal Tesla accidents in its monthly ADAS crash report.
Since mandatory reporting began in June 2021, the NHTSA has recorded 18 fatal accidents it said involved ADAS systems. All but one report involved a Tesla.
«NHTSA has reviewed these crashes and is conducting appropriate follow-up. NHTSA uses many data sources in its enforcement processes,» the agency told Reuters.
The NHTSA began collecting data on ADAS accidents involving levels 1 and 2, the latter of which includes Tesla’s Autopilot, in June 2021. Mandatory reporting began due to a general order from the Agency requiring all auto manufacturers with ADAS technology to report any and all accidents involving said tech.
The NHTSA defines ADAS level 2 as systems «which can simultaneously support vehicle lane position, speed, and following distance,» but which require humans to maintain focus.
The Agency’s first report, delivered in June of this year, found that Tesla accounted for 70 percent of ADAS accidents, or 270 of the 394 it was informed of between June ’21 and June ’22. Since then, the agency has reported new data monthly, with the latest report covering the month ending October 15.
Looking at the total number of ADAS crash reports submitted in the past year, Tesla dominates, although this is likely linked to the fact that there are more ADAS-equipped Teslas on the road than other vehicles. The Associated Press has previously claimed Tesla’s crash rate per 1,000 vehicles is «substantially higher than the corresponding numbers for other automakers,» although it didn’t give further detail.
Musk’s car company has submitted 474 ADAS crash reports to the NHTSA, while the next closest manufacturer, Honda, has reported 107 accidents.
Total ADAS crash reports by manufacturer
Honda has not reported a fatal ADAS accident to the NHTSA. Ford, which has reported seven total accidents, was the only company aside from Tesla to report a fatality linked to driver assist technology.
It’s also worth noting that the NHTSA puts a number of caveats on its data, like the fact that an accident could be reported more than once, that reports aren’t standardized between manufacturers or that manufacturers could simply opt not to report an accident.
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Still, the NHTSA has been on Tesla’s case for some time, having opened an investigation last year into a series of accidents that saw Teslas with Autopilot engaged crash into vehicles or emergency responders at the scene of other accidents.
Shortly before publishing its first list of ADAS accidents, the NHTSA announced that it was advancing its initial look at Tesla Autopilot to a formal engineering analysis, which could lead to a recall of 830,000 vehicles.
The agency expressed concern with the degree to which Autopilot may be making drivers, who are supposed to maintain alertness while using it, become complacent, leading to slower response times.
Tesla maintains that customers using Autopilot should keep their hands on the wheel at all times and remain attentive. ®
Tesla Autopilot Crash Data For Q4 2022: It’s Better Than A Year Ago
However, the new safety report indicates issues too.
Mar 10, 2023 at 11:37am ET
Tesla recently released a new update to its Vehicle Safety Report, revealing data for the fourth quarter of 2022.
The voluntarily published quarterly reports include the number of miles driven per one accident registered when using Autopilot technology, not using Autopilot technology, and the US average (NHTSA and FHWA data) as a background.
The data gives us glimpses of how Autopilot improves vehicle safety but it has some limitations (more on that at the bottom of this post) due to the methodology. For example, Tesla counts all accidents, regardless of the cause, despite the fact that more than 35 percent of all Autopilot crashes occur when the Tesla vehicle is rear-ended by another vehicle, the company says.
Tesla Vehicle Safety Report – Q4 2022
According to Tesla, the number of miles driven per one accident registered, when using Autopilot technology, amounted to 4.85 million miles driven — an 11.5 percent increase year-over-year. That’s a positive sign.
At the same time, the result was noticeably lower than in the previous three quarters, but we can’t really compare different seasons.
The most important thing is that there are fewer crashes registered every year, as far as fourth quarters are considered.
Without using Autopilot technology, Tesla vehicles statistically note more accidents. In Q4 2022, it was one accident per 1.40 million miles driven (8 percent more than a year ago).
There is a significant difference between the two modes of driving (with or without Autopilot) and the difference continues to increase.
However, we must note that the two data sets should not be compared against each other, aside from providing us with some idea of the numbers.
It’s important to note that the results are comparable only within a particular category (Autopilot or without Autopilot), not between the categories as the input data might be widely different (like simple highway driving or complex city driving). In other words, we can only see whether the active safety systems are improving over time (and it’s also only a rough comparison), but we can’t compare Autopilot to non-Autopilot driving.
We assume that the proper use of Autopilot improves safety, but Tesla’s report does not allow us to evaluate the difference.
Below we attached a full chart with all numbers provided by the manufacturer plus NHTSA and FHWA data about the average distance between an automobile crash in the United States.
The difference is pretty huge, but once again, we shouldn’t really compare the numbers directly. The US average includes also a much older vehicle fleet (with fewer safety systems), which alone is a big factor. The US average is 0.652 million miles (there has been no update in a long time).
Tesla has its own version of the chart:
- data for each setting might be collected at different driving scenarios (like simple highway driving or complex city driving), which makes the results incomparable between the categories
- results might be affected by various factors, including seasonality (reduced daylight, weather conditions), less driving during lockdown
- NHTSA and FHWA average for the US (updated rarely) includes all cars, also old
- Tesla’s info about the methodology of registering accidents:
«We collect the amount of miles traveled by each vehicle with Autopilot active or in manual driving, based on available data we receive from the fleet, and do so without identifying specific vehicles to protect privacy. We also receive a crash alert anytime a crash is reported to us from the fleet, which may include data about whether Autopilot was active at the time of impact. To ensure our statistics are conservative, we count any crash in which Autopilot was deactivated within 5 seconds before impact, and we count all crashes in which the incident alert indicated an airbag or other active restraint deployed. (Our crash statistics are not based on sample data sets or estimates.) In practice, this correlates to nearly any crash at about 12 mph (20 kph) or above, depending on the crash forces generated. We do not differentiate based on the type of crash or fault (For example, more than 35% of all Autopilot crashes occur when the Tesla vehicle is rear-ended by another vehicle). In this way, we are confident that the statistics we share unquestionably show the benefits of Autopilot.»
- assuming the methodology was not changed, we can see how each category improves over time
NHTSA data shows Teslas using Autopilot crashed 273 times in less than a year
Honda had the second-highest number of crashes, with 90 over the same period.
Jonathan M. Gitlin — Jun 15, 2022 4:31 pm UTC
On Wednesday morning, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released data on the safety, or lack thereof, of advanced driver assistance systems. Since June 2021, automakers have been required to inform NHTSA if any of their vehicles crash while using partially automated driving systems, also known as SAE level 2 systems.
As many suspected, Tesla’s Autopilot system accounted for the majority of crashes since the reporting period began. In fact, Teslas represented three-quarters of all ADAS crashes—273 out of 367 crashes reported between July 2021 and May 15, 2022. The news provides yet more data undermining Tesla’s safety claims about its Autopilot system.
In the past, Tesla and even NHTSA have claimed that Autopilot reduced crash rates by 40 percent. However, as we reported in 2018, that claim fell apart once a consulting company called Quality Control Systems got its hands on the data.
Autopilot’s woes did not end there, however, and a string of Tesla Autopilot crashes eventually spurred NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation into action. In August 2021, NHTSA’s ODI opened a probe into 11 crashes in which Teslas using Autopilot crashed into first responder vehicles and upgraded that probe to a much more comprehensive Engineering Analysis earlier this June. This is in addition to a separate NHTSA investigation into the propensity of newer Teslas—which lack forward-looking radar—to spontaneously brake. The investigation began in February.
Tesla’s Autopilot system has also been repeatedly singled out by the National Transportation Safety Board, which even blasted NHTSA for failing «to recognize the importance of ensuring that acceptable safeguards are in place so the vehicles do not operate outside of their operational design domains and beyond the capabilities of their system designs.»
Under NHTSA’s new standing order, automakers (and operators, if appropriate) have to file incident reports on any crashes involving level 2 ADAS that occurred on a publicly accessible road in the United States or its territories.
In fact, they must report any crashes if a level 2 ADAS system was operating within 30 seconds of the crash and the crash involved «a vulnerable road user2 or resulted in a fatality, a vehicle tow-away, an airbag deployment, or any individual being transported to a hospital for medical treatment.»
(This may be meant to address the concern that Tesla has programmed Autopilot to shut down if it determines a crash is imminent. Last week, NHTSA said that in an investigation of 16 Tesla crashes, several showed that Autopilot gave back control of the car to the human driver «less than a second before the crash.»)
The data in NHTSA’s latest dump is subject to a few caveats. Access to crash data varies by manufacturer, and some incident data may be incomplete, the agency says. Some crashes may be reported more than once if the data came in via the manufacturer but also as a complaint. The agency also notes that some data has been partially redacted to protect personally identifiable information or confidential business information and that the summary incident report data is not normalized; it’s merely represented as an absolute number of crashes. (However, NHTSA does not require «a significant number of failures» to be a «substantial percentage of the total» when it comes to safety defects.)
The most common source of crash data came from telematics; complaints and claims were the second most common source. Of the 402 crashes broken down by reporting entity, Tesla was far ahead, with 273 crashes in less than a year. The second-greatest number of crashes involved Honda’s vehicles—in February, NHTSA opened an investigation into the Japanese automaker’s ADAS after receiving nearly 300 complaints about phantom braking. Subaru was third, with just 10 crashes over the same time frame.
Listing image by Tesla