Tesla released a new update to its voluntarily published quarterly Vehicle Safety Report, revealing data for the first quarter of 2024.

As it turns out, the number of miles driven per accident registered when using Autopilot technology improved noticeably to a new record level. However, the number of miles when not using Autopilot technology worsened. Meanwhile, the U.S. average remains the same because the most recent data from the NHTSA and FHWA is for the year 2022.

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Tesla EV Safety

Tesla aspires to be one of the world's safest car brands. Its Autopilot driver assist system is promised to offer a significant improvement of safety, compared to conventional driving.

The data gives us glimpses of how Autopilot improves vehicle safety, but it has some limitations due to the methodology (more on that at the bottom of this post). For example, Tesla counts all accidents, regardless of the cause, even though more than 35% of all Autopilot crashes occur when the Tesla vehicle is rear-ended by another car, the company says.

Tesla Vehicle Safety Report – Q1 2024

According to Tesla, the number of miles driven per accident registered in Q1 2024 using Autopilot technology amounted to 7.63 million miles.

That's a 47% year-over-year improvement and a new record. The average is also some 11 times higher than the U.S. average for all cars.

The previous highest result was noted in Q1 2022—6.57 million miles per accident registered. In 2023, it was between 5.18 and 6.18 million miles.

Without using Autopilot technology, Tesla vehicles statistically note more accidents. The average amounted to 0.955 million miles driven per accident registered.

The result is 13% worse than in Q1 2023 and the worst ever recorded. We don't know why this statistic worsens because multiple factors affect it. More miles are driven with Autopilot, potentially leaving more challenging driving scenarios for drivers.

There is a significant difference between the two modes of driving (with or without Autopilot), and the difference continues to increase. In Q1, it increased by almost 70% year-over-year to 8.

However, we must note that the two data sets should not be compared apart 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.

We have attached below a full chart with all the numbers provided by the manufacturer, plus NHTSA and FHWA data about the average distance between automobile crashes in the United States.

The difference is pretty huge, but once again, we shouldn't compare the numbers directly. The U.S. average includes a much older vehicle fleet (with fewer safety systems), which alone is a big factor. The U.S. average is 0.670 million miles (as of 2022, since there is no info for 2023-2024 yet).

Tesla has its own version of the chart:

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
  • results might be affected by various factors, including seasonality (reduced daylight, weather conditions), less driving during lockdown
  • NHTSA and FHWA average for the U.S. (updated rarely) includes all cars, also it's 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 has not changed, we can see how each category improves over time.
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