You may have read recently that Tesla, as a carmaker, has the highest accident rate of any automobile manufacturer in the United States. And while that’s a pretty clicky headline, it’s not necessarily true.

The data used to back up those words came from LendingTree, which is an online lending marketplace. Researchers from the website looked at tens of millions of insurance quotes from Nov. 2022 through Nov. 2023.

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Tesla drivers, not Tesla vehicles, top the accident chart

A new study from LendingTree shows that Tesla drivers have the highest accident rate in the United States. That's different from what some outlets have reported, implying that Tesla vehicles were somehow at the heart of the problem. Furthermore, another insurance provider has data that shows no Tesla model whatsoever in the top 10.

The results were compiled in a list that shows the best and worst drivers by car brand in every state. In other words, it’s the drivers that come under the microscope, and not the marque itself–not to take Tesla’s side here, but facts are facts.

During the analyzed period, Tesla drivers had 23.54 accidents per 1,000 drivers on a countrywide level, followed by Ram with 22.76 accidents and Subaru with 20.90 accidents. That said, we need to remember that these numbers come from insurance quotes, not service data. A driver who has an accident on his record from when he owned a Ford bought a Tesla and is looking to get insurance, hence the number of Tesla drivers that have been in an accident increases.

By contrast, drivers of cars made by brands that no longer exist today (and are rarer sights on the roads) are at the bottom of the list. Pontiac drivers have an accident rate of 8.41 per 1,000 drivers, Mercury has 8.96, and Saturn has 9.13. 

When it comes to incidents in general, which include accidents, DUIs, speeding, and citations, Ram drivers have the highest rate with 32.90 driving incidents per 1,000 drivers, followed by Tesla with 31.13 incidents and Subaru with 30.09 incidents per 1,000 drivers.

Gallery: Tesla Cybertruck

LendingTree says that it’s hard to nail down why certain brands may have higher accident rates than others, but that a higher-powered vehicle can make a dent in the statistics. And Tesla, as well as Ram, makes some pretty impressive vehicles, at least when it comes to power.

That said, while researching this story, I came across a similar study from virtual insurance agent Insurify which has completely different results. The website looked at its database of more than 4.6 million car insurance applications to identify the car models with the most accidents in 2023 (the results were published in June).

Long story short, this study has no Tesla models whatsoever in its top 10 list of car models with the most accidents this year (based on the percentage of drivers with a prior at-fault accident on record).

The Audi S4 tops that list, followed by the Scion iA and the Chevrolet Volt. But, again, it's the drivers, not necessarily the cars that should be looked at.

Whatever the case, it's clear that no matter what car you drive, accidents can happen. So stay safe out there and try to keep out of the statistics.

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