The number of accidents per million miles driven seems stable.

Tesla Vehicle Safety Report for the third quarter of 2020 once again does not bring any breakthroughs. The number of accidents per million miles driven are similar to previous periods.

Moreover, the numbers for driving without Autopilot are actually slightly worse than a year ago.

The company registered:

  • Autopilot on: one accident for every 4.59 million miles driven (up 5.8% year-over-year)
  • Autopilot off, active safety features on: one accident for every 2.42 million miles driven (down 10.4% year-over-year)
  • Autopilot off, active safety features off: one accident for every 1.79 million miles driven (down 1.6% year-over-year)

It's important to note that the results are comparable only for a particular category, not between the categories as the input data might be widely different. In other words, we can only see whether the active safety systems are improving over time, but 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.

Tesla Safety Report – Q3 2020

"In the 3rd quarter, we registered one accident for every 4.59 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot but with our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 2.42 million miles driven. For those driving without Autopilot and without our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 1.79 million miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 479,000 miles."

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As Tesla recently started beta tests of its full self-driving capability, maybe in one of the next quarters we will see a new category for FSD. However the company would first have to clock some mileage on it.

Important factors:

  • 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
  • we don't know the methodology of registering accidents
  • assuming the methodology was not changed, we can see how each category improves over time
  • NHTSA average for the U.S. (updated rarely) includes all cars, also old
  • results might be affected by various factors, including seasonality (reduced daylight, weather conditions), less driving during COVID-19 lockdown