NHTSA On Tesla Model 3: Lowest Probability Of Injury Of Any Tested Vehicle


It’s as safe as it gets.

As predicted by Elon Musk, the Tesla Model 3 has the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the NHTSA.

It aced all of the crash tests a couple weeks ago and now, after the release of the full data, we discover that the Model 3 is actually the safest car tested by the NHTSA. Of course, Musk foreshadowed this in a Tweet awhile back, too:

In its recently released report, Tesla states:

Based on the advanced architecture of Model S and Model X, which were previously found by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to have the lowest and second lowest probabilities of injury of all cars ever tested, we engineered Model 3 to be the safest car ever built. Now, not only has Model 3 achieved a perfect 5-star safety rating in every category and sub-category, but NHTSA’s tests also show that it has the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested.

So, the Model 3 is now the safest, but believe it or not the next 2 safest cars are Teslas, too:

NHTSA’s previous tests of Model S and Model X still hold the record for the second and third lowest probabilities of injury, making Tesla vehicles the best ever rated by NHTSA.

We should point out that the NHTSA tested the Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive as part of its New Car Assessment Program.

The Model 3 scored top marks in every single tested category. Beyond that, the Model 3 comes equipped with every NHTSA-recommend safety technology as standard equipment, meaning you don’t have to tick an option box to get a safer Model 3. Every 3 is as safe as the next.

Safety has always been paramount at Tesla, so no surprise here. It was way back in 2013 when the Tesla Model S earned crazy high marks from the NHTSA and now it seems with the Model 3, Tesla has raised the bar again.

Model 3 owners should be thrilled now knowing that the vehicle they drive is basically the safest car on the planet, according to the NHTSA.

Check out these new safety-related videos released by Tesla:

Full release from Tesla below:

Model 3 achieves the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA

Based on the advanced architecture of Model S and Model X, which were previously found by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to have the lowest and second lowest probabilities of injury of all cars ever tested, we engineered Model 3 to be the safest car ever built. Now, not only has Model 3 achieved a perfect 5-star safety rating in every category and sub-category, but NHTSA’s tests also show that it has the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested.

NHTSA tested Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive as part of its New Car Assessment Program, a series of crash tests used to calculate the likelihood of serious bodily injury for front, side and rollover crashes. The agency’s data shows that vehicle occupants are less likely to get seriously hurt in these types of crashes when in a Model 3 than in any other car. NHTSA’s previous tests of Model S and Model X still hold the record for the second and third lowest probabilities of injury, making Tesla vehicles the best ever rated by NHTSA. We expect similar results for other Model 3 variants, including our dual-motor vehicles, when they are rated.

What makes Model 3 safe?
In addition to its near 50/50 weight distribution, Model 3 was also designed with an extremely low polar moment of inertia, which means that its heaviest components are located closer to the car’s center of gravity. Even though Model 3 has no engine, its performance is similar to what’s described as a “mid-engine car” due to its centered battery pack (the heaviest component of the car) and the fact that Model 3’s rear motor is placed slightly in front of the rear axle rather than behind it. Not only does this architecture add to the overall agility and handling of the car, it also improves the capability of stability control by minimizing rotational kinetic energy.

Like Model S and Model X, Model 3 benefits from its all-electric architecture and powertrain design, which consists of a strong, rigid passenger compartment, fortified battery pack, and overall low center of gravity. These safety fundamentals help to prevent intrusion into the cabin and battery modules, reduce rollover risk, and distribute crash forces systematically away from the cabin – all while providing the foundation for our superior front crumple zone that is optimized to absorb energy and crush more efficiently. Here, you can see how the orange internal combustion engine block is thrust towards the cabin during a frontal impact test:

We also added state of the art features and new innovations in crash structure design, restraints and airbags, and battery safety to the core of Model 3’s design:

In frontal crashes, Model 3’s efficient front crumple zone carefully controls the deceleration of occupants, while its advanced restraint system complements this with pre-tensioners and load-limiters that keep occupants safely in place. Specially designed passenger airbags are shaped to protect an occupant’s head in angled or offset crashes, and active vents dynamically adjust the internal pressure of the frontal airbags to optimize protection based on the unique characteristics of the crash. Front and knee airbags and a collapsible steering column work to further reduce injury, all contributing to Model 3’s 5-star rating in frontal impact.

In pole impact crashes, in which a narrow obstruction impacts the car between the main crash rails, energy-absorbing lateral and diagonal beam structures work to mitigate the impact. This includes a high-strength aluminum bumper beam, a sway bar placed low and forward in the front of the car, cross-members at the front of the steel subframe that are connected to the main crash rails, and additional diagonal beams in the subframe that distribute energy back to the crash rails when they aren’t directly impacted. An ultra-high strength martensitic steel beam is also attached to the top of the front suspension to further absorb crash energy from severe impacts, and the rear part of the subframe is shaped like a “U” and buckles down when impacted. These structures continue to be effective even when a front motor is added for Model 3 Dual-Motor All-Wheel Drive, due to the fact that the subframe is designed to pull the nose of the motor down and out of the way.

Model 3 also has the lowest intrusion from side pole impact of any vehicle tested by NHTSA. Unlike frontal crashes, there is little room for crumple zone in a side impact, so we patented our own pillar structures and side sills to absorb as much energy as possible in a very short distance. These structures work alongside the vehicle’s rigid body and fortified battery architecture to further reduce and prevent compartment intrusion. With less intrusion into the cabin, our side airbags have more space to inflate and cushion the occupants inside.

Rollover accidents are a significant contributor to injuries and deaths on U.S. roads. Tesla’s vehicle architecture is fundamentally designed to have a very low center of gravity, which is accomplished by placing the heavy battery pack and electric motors as close to the ground as possible. In the event that a rollover does occur, our internal tests show that the Model 3 body structure can withstand roof-crush loads equivalent to more than four times its own weight and with very little structural deformation. NHTSA’s standards only require that cars withstand loads of three times their own weight.

Many companies try to build cars that perform well in crash tests, and every car company claims their vehicles are safe. But when a crash happens in real life, these test results show that if you are driving a Tesla, you have the best chance of avoiding serious injury.

Categories: Crashed EVs, Tesla

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73 Comments on "NHTSA On Tesla Model 3: Lowest Probability Of Injury Of Any Tested Vehicle"

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That’s awesome news ‼️

Cannot say I’m surprised, the car feels solid. I’m so glad to drive one.

Makes me cry every time when I see a new Tesla smashed on purpose.

It’s usually over pretty quick and relatively painless.

I always wonder, are they using regular cars for these tests, or do they pick up factory rejects with serious defects, that would go to scrap anyway?…

While that’s very impressive, the graph in the article has no true zero, which can be misleading. It looks from the lines like the Model 3 has half the risk of injury as the Model S, while it’s actually only a roughly 10% lower risk, from around 6.25 to 5.75.


It is shocking just how often we see misleading graphs like this one, which have the bottom or top cut off, without a proper zero line. 🙁

It’s not misleading if the vertical axis is clearly marked.

Having a narrow range allows the shape to be more clearly seen without making the graph super tall.

Of course it is deceptive. The axis want marked, making it even more so, but even if it had been, why do it? The only reason is to make Tesla look better than the numbers make it.

If the point of the graphic was to read the exact values, restricting the axis provides better resolution. But here the exact values are meaningless. The whole point is the comparison. And even a viewer who notices the trick can’t really create a *correct* representation of the relative values without real effort.

Considering the graph is straight from Tesla (as is the conclusion, btw), it is incredibly naïve to think this was done for any reason other than maximize the impression of Tesla’s advantage.

So what if it went to 0, the TM3 is the lowest anyway. The vertical is clearly marked at 5% bottom.
Not all graphs have to go to zero…jeeez!!!!

It’s the best. Everything else is irrelevant.

Nope, the reason is to make the differences actually visible, instead of having everything look the same. *Not* cropping a graph like that is usually a sign of incompetence.

It’s emotionally/ subconsciously misleading even if it’s clearly labeled. And this is often done deliberately to distort the presentation of the data.

My aunt, who had a PhD in a research science field, was the first to explain to me that graphs can, and often are, distorted by cutting off the part of the graph containing the zero line. Bless her for sharing her wisdom!

There’s nothing wrong with including a second graph to focus in on smaller variations in the data, but the first graph of the data in a presentation should contain a zero line (when there is one) to put the variation into perspective.

The fact that the distance between the the Model 3 and the nearest follower is much larger than distances between the various other contenders, indeed means that it’s significantly ahead of the pack, even if the numbers are close.

Yes. This should be used only to improve readability, and be clearly marked by drawing the squeezed axis as a zig-zag where it starts (as if it’s been compressed). In a case like this, where the entire point with the graph is not the exact numerical values (which after all is directly dependent on every detail, such as the exact speed) but only the comparison, it would be much better to use true zero, since the relative size of the bars then correctly reflects the relationship between the numbers. I however think it’s worse that the headline simply isn’t true. Tesla interpreted the NHTSA data in their own unspecified way, and concluded their cars have the lowest probability of injury. It may be that Tesla is correct in this, but even if IEVs had independently verified this, which I’m willing to bet they have not, it is STILL simply untrue to pretend this conclusion was drawn by the NHTSA. I believe Tesla makes some of the safest cars in the world. I even find it plausible the Model 3 may be THE safest car there is (in crashes with immobile barriers; in a frontal crash with another vehicle I believe… Read more »

The graph exagerates, but doesn’t change the conclusion. Thou protest too much.

If you just want to show the conclusion, then just show the numbers. If the data is presented on a graph, then the graph should be an accurate representation of the data. This one isn’t; this graph is distorted in a very misleading way.

“Misleading graphs are often used in false advertising. One of the first authors to write about misleading graphs was Darrell Huff, publisher of the 1954 book How to Lie with Statistics“.


It also has no true 100, so what’s your point?

That was obtuse, and also just as misleading as the graph. The far majority do not read the labels. Just just look at the lines. So by cutting off the lower section, he is fully correct that the graph looks better than it really is reporting. Very misleading. Sad to see Tesla have to stoop so low.

I was mislead into thinking that Model 3 was twice as safe as the Model S. Why not push the graph even further down and have the Model 3 bar have 0 height? This article could have been written and the same conclusion reached without the misleading graph.

I think graphs like these assume the reader is intelligent enough to draw the unnecessary parts of the graph mentally rather than taking up empty space for no reason.

But I can understand how some people would prefer to just have it presented in a less appealing but more complete fashion, just an academic vs entertainment based distinction.

Thanks for your opinion, but I’m going to go with what my aunt told me; the one with a doctorate in research science.

Are you still driving that Ford Pinto?

That’s called an “appeal to authority” — the complementary logical fallacy to “ad hominem”.

An appeal to authority is only fallacious when it’s a false appeal to authority, or when it claims the authority is infallible. Your favorite pro ball player isn’t an authority on breakfast cereals, even if he’s seen praising one brand or another in a commercial.

On the other hand, considering my aunt’s doctorate and her years of experience with actually working in a science research lab… I think she qualifies on the subject of how to present research/ testing data properly.

I wonder where the Gen I Volt is on the list. The Volt went 4 or 5 years before there was a traffic fatality of anyone in one. I have followed a couple links to try to find the info but I must be missing the list of safest cars. Anyone see the entire list?

This is just based off NHTSA crash test, not real world accident data.

I was kind of haphazard in the way I referred to the real world crash safety of the Volt and then asked about the crash safety testing data. Sorry for the sloppy thinking/writing, Viking!
But I am still curious about the link if anyone knows how to find the list that Tesla is holding the top 3 spots on! 😉

It appears that the graph is from Tesla? Their marketing department probably made it from data from NHTSA if I had to guess.

In your mind this should be completely dismissed?

Good stuff. Looking forward to seeing what the IIHS comes up with.

The IIHS reports basic info, not detailed crash statistics. Won’t be helpful at all other than “it passes…”

I have a better test, teach the drivers to drive around the wall not into it!

Even better, teach people to drive period. As always, it’s not me or my driving I’m worried about, it’s the others who probably shouldn’t be driving at all much less own a cell phone too…

I don’t think the numbers are designed to be used the way the press release is using them. If you remember, NHTSA had to tell Musk to knock it off when he touted the Model S as achieving a 5.4 rating. There is no such thing, with 5 being the highest rating. NHTSA had to rewrite its guidelines. In this case the testing isn’t sufficiently granular to distinguish to make the type of distinctions the press release is claiming. IOW all cars with five stars ratings are equally safe.

Tesla should be congratulated for building safe cars. For its exaggerated hype not so much.

And for serial anti-Tesla Don C’s exaggerated FUD, not so much.

No matter how much you lamely try and negatively spin it Don, all 3 Tesla models are safer then the car you drive.

BTW, have you looked at the EV scorecard lately?

OMG, can anyone ever give a damn opinion about Tesla that isn’t worshipping it without jackasses like you trying to go and attack them like you’re some cult follower or something? And we wonder why there are still a lot of people out there that steer clear of Tesla’s even though they are actually interested in the car. They don’t like the toxic community that hovers around it…

You appear to have mis-identified the “toxic community”. Get Real isn’t one of the bashers using social media for anti-social purposes by spreading lies.

The only misleading statements lies here can be found in Tesla’s PR statement, and you are one of those using social media for anti-social purposes by spreading the lies. And your stupid shtick about short sellers has become tedious and pathetic.

Can you tell me what the numbers provided by Tesla were generated from NHTSA data?

In case you missed it, no doubt it won’t appear here, NHTSA just publicly rebuked Tesla for making claims abut the safety of its cars which are not supported by its testing. The Tesla 3 may or may not be safer than the car I drive but for sure Tesla’s PR statement is unsupported by facts and misleading.

We will be publishing a piece on it tomorrow. It’s not as it seems. There is more misinformation out there. Stay tuned.

You are right, but people and authors on here won’t care. I hope to see some more content from Tom again. Always objective and written with thought.

“IOW all cars with five stars ratings are equally safe” — that’s inane. Stars are just shorthand and suffer from rounding errors. The raw ratings, eg depth of intrusion, eill distinguish the results.

For some strange reason, I find Tesla’s PR more believable than DonC’s serial Tesla bashing FÜD.

Shocking, I know.

I once again reserve judgment until the much more accurate IIHS tests are performed. NHTSA is not as meaningful.

If THIS test is so easy, why doesn’t some other company knock Tesla off the top 3?

Do cars ever do super-well on the NHTSA testing, but then do much worse on the IIHS testing? Just wondering, sincerely wondering.

You mean, the NHTSA tests directly undercut your anti-Tesla agenda, so you’re pretending that the IIHS tests are “more accurate”. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this particular bit of FÜD.

The NHTSA and the IIHS use different crash test methods. Calling one or the other “better” is at best subjective, at worst merely more bull pucky.

It’s actually Tesla, and not NHTSA, who says NHTSA found their cars to have the lowest probability of injury. I can’t find any such number in the official documents, all of which are publicly available at the NHTSA’s web site.

Could the author please provide a link to the NHTSA document and point out the relevant section?

Electrek uses the same misguided headline, but at least it becomes clearer who’s claim this is in the text (but only after the incorrect bits, as if to explain what “NHTSA finds” actually means):

“Tesla pulled the data from NHTSA and came to the conclusion that the Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive has achieved the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by the road authority.”

Maybe we will reach the same conclusion upon reviewing the NHTSA data. The measurements I compared to 2012 LEAF for fun were mostly in the Tesla’s favour. But I couldn’t see a probability of injury figure anywhere, and if it’s there I’d really like to be able to locate it, for Model 3 and any other car.

I can’t believe you are downvoted for this. Tesla is calculating the probability somehow, but nowhere do they indicate how they calculate this. They need to be open on how they arrive at their conclusion.

I am super surprised if this would actually be true. So you are a startup company that makes the safest, most efficient, highest gross margin cars on the market. Normally if something looks too good to be true it generally is not true.

It appears the serial Tesla bashers are out in force today. Are they worried about their “short” investments, hmmm?

Maybe you should better wonder about physics. A safer car is typically a heavy car. A heavy car would not translate to an efficient car because more weight would mean a loss of efficiency. Did you ever see a car which is super efficient and heavy before? Typically efficient cars are small light cars not big heavy cars. So in that light I would like to know more about the background. How are they able to achieve it? And why is nobody asking questions about it?

It’s certainly correct to say that in a head-on collision, all other things being equal, the heavier car is “safer”… but only for the people in the heavier car! And only at the expense of being more dangerous for those in the lighter car. Even worse, that argument has been used to justify an insane level of “arms race” for larger and heavier passenger vehicles in the American market.

But the thing is, when it comes to crash safety, “all other things being equal” is almost never the case. I’d argue that in a head-on collision between a Model S and a Model 3, the MS would be safer for those inside it… but only because the MS itself has a very high safety rating. Given a generic luxury car, I’d definitely bet on the Model 3 as being safer.

And Bob Lutz says Tesla’s cars are just equal to other electric cars…

Bob Klutz says he’s confused and behind the times.

I don’t know what to say, safest car, production is ramping up like hell… but stock is still going down!
What does it take?

It takes for enough longs to sell, capitulation…works both ways. It has nothing to do with production numbers.

Stock prices are generally an indication of how well the market thinks the company is gong to perform in the near future. But Tesla’s stock price movements often appear rather disconnected from company performance. My impression is that the volatile movements in Tesla’s stock price mostly reflect short-term ups and downs in speculator trading.

Hat trick.

So curious what car is ranked #4.

I will wait for IIHS test results to fully crown Tesla. I believe all Teslas are safe. But NHTSA crash tests seem to be a bit out of date or held to slightly lower standard compared with IIHS test.

Now, If Model 3 is better than Model S, would you rather be in a Model S or Model 3 if a Model S is involved in a head on collision with Model 3?

“…NHTSA crash tests seem to be a bit out of date or held to slightly lower standard compared with IIHS test.”

Based on what? Based on a FÜD comment posted by some serial Tesla basher?

Beats a transverse engine in your lap.

This is not “NHTSA On Tesla Model 3”, this is Tesla’s PR statement. I haven’t found the numbers anywhere on NHTSA site, have you?

It may be the safest car AFTER a crash, but how can this high tech wonder leave our blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert / auto-braking? I have both on my years old Subarus that are half the price. The lack of these features will unfortunately rule out Tesla as my next car

I’d like to see who is the 4th, 5th, 6th…? How do I get this information? I tried to find it on the NHTSA web site but they don’t provide “lowest probability of injury” information. What’s up with that?

The NHTSA doesn’t rank cars. It only provides the star rating. On its website there is a somewhat hidden area where all the individual scores are posted. It’s linked in a few of our articles on the subject.