Tesla cars turn out to have way fewer accidents than the average car in the U.S.

The new quarterly Tesla Vehicle Safety Report brings us some stats about the average distance driven by Tesla cars per accident. According to the manufacturer, the results are way better than average for the U.S., provided by NHTSA.

During the Q4'2018 Tesla registered:

  • Autopilot engaged: one accident for every 2.91 million miles driven
  • Without Autopilot: one accident for every 1.58 million miles driven
  • NHTSA’s most recent data for U.S.: an automobile crash every 436,000 miles
For the Q3'2018 results were:
  • Autopilot engaged: one accident or crash-like event for every 3.34 million miles driven
  • Without Autopilot: one accident or crash-like event for every 1.92 million miles driven
  • NHTSA’s data for U.S.: an automobile crash every 492,000 miles

Comparing Q4 with Q3 (the only two that we have so far - Tesla will provide reports every quarter), it seems that the safety of Tesla decreased. We don't know the reason.

On the other hand, the average for the U.S. increased. In the case of general U.S. average, Tesla says that NHTSA has released new data for Q4.

Anyway, without Autopilot, Tesla seems to improve safety 3-4 times compared to average.

On paper, Autopilot additionally improves the result, but we assume that most drivers use the Autopilot only on roads which suit Autopilot and higher speeds (higher mileage) like highways, main roads, or in heavy traffic. Excluding other areas (especially city) in Autopilot stats (where it's not used that often), will obviously show better results.

From a statistical point of view, Tesla stats don't tell us anything about how much better (or worse in theory) Autopilot is on the particular type of road. We don't doubt that Autopilot improves safety, but at least this data does not reveal the difference.

General info from Tesla:

"At Tesla, we believe that technology can help improve safety. That’s why Tesla vehicles are engineered to be the safest cars in the world. We believe the unique combination of passive safety, active safety, and automated driver assistance is crucial for keeping not just Tesla drivers and passengers safe, but all drivers on the road. It’s this belief that grounds every decision we make, from the design of our cars, to the software we introduce, to the features we offer every Tesla owner.

While no car prevents all accidents, we work every day to try to make them much less likely to occur. Advanced safety features like Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Obstacle Aware Acceleration, come standard on all Tesla vehicles for an added layer of safety beyond the physical structure of each car. Over-the-air software updates allow us to introduce safety enhancements and new features long after a car has been purchased by a customer. And because every Tesla is connected, we’re able to use the more than 10 billion miles of real-world data collected by our global fleet – of which more than 1 billion have been driven with Autopilot engaged – to constantly improve our products."