Early Safety Reports Warn of Possible Tesla Defects

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently compiled crash data involving advanced driver-assisted vehicles, which has placed an uncomfortable spotlight on Tesla. In years prior, such vehicles had been coined as “self-driving” or “autonomous.” However, as unsafe assumptions grew about the vehicle’s ability to safely and truly drive itself, the name has changed to “advanced driver-assisted vehicles” or “smart cars.”

Data in the latest report revealed that Tesla vehicles were involved in the largest percentage of advanced driver-assisted vehicle crashes. However, the NHTSA was quick to point out that the data is mostly preliminary and warrants further study. Also, the Tesla brand is easily the most popular brand of advanced driver-assisted vehicles, so it might not be statistically significant to find that Tesla vehicles were the most prominent in the crash data.

Key points from the NHTSA driver-assisted vehicle crash data:

  • Approximately 400 smart cars were involved in crashes between June 2021 and May 2022.
  • Tesla smart cars were involved in 273 of those crashes or about 70% of them.
  • Honda was the second-most common brand on the list having been involved in 90 crashes.
  • 5 serious injuries and 6 fatalities were reported in the data.
  • Data for nearly 300 cars did not comment on the severity of any injuries, but also did not say that no injuries happened.

The data examined “Level 2” driver-assist systems that are not considered “self-driving.” Instead, a Level 2 system is meant to help keep the driver’s attention on the road and make adjustments to improve their driving abilities. For example, some smart cars will automatically hit the brakes if a forward-facing laser system detects an imminent impact, but the driver has not hit the brakes yet.

Are Tesla Vehicles More Dangerous?

If Tesla driver-assisted vehicles were in 70% of the reported crashes, does that mean that they are more dangerous than other brands? Not necessarily. As the NHTSA warned, the fact that Tesla smart vehicles have sold much faster than other brands could be the sole reason why Tesla is involved in the most crashes.

The NHTSA also mentioned that it focused on Tesla vehicles for their prevalence and acceptance on most streets, roads, and highways. It is not clear if the NHTSA or the NTSB factored in recent Tesla recalls that impacted the majority of the brand’s vehicles.

Looking for More Smart Car Crash Data

While the latest crash report on advanced driver-assisted vehicles is useful, it is only the beginning of a wider study conducted by the NHTSA and NTSB. The safety organizations want to use the data and more like it to get a better understanding of what can cause a “self-driving” vehicle to crash, especially when equipped with the best technology available. Notably, the data that was compiled does not shed too much light on how the majority of those accidents happened. With future investigations, this gap of information will hopefully be bridged, and driver-assisted vehicles will continue to become safer.

To learn more about the NHTSA smart vehicle crash study, you can click here to read a full article from CNBC News. If you have questions about filing an auto accident claim after a crash with a Tesla or another self-driving car, then you can call (405) 433-7414 to connect with Fulmer Sill. We help clients in Oklahoma City with complex injury cases. Hablamos español.

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