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NHTSA: Tesla accounts for almost 70% of Level 2 driver-assist crashes in the US, but don’t draw conclusions yet

(Credit: Tesla)

Federal figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Wednesday revealed that Tesla vehicles accounted for almost 70% of reported crashes involving Level 2 driver-assist systems in the United States since June 2021. However, NHTSA officials have warned that no conclusions about the systems’ safety should be drawn just yet. 

The NHTSA noted that the data — which is the first of its kind — does not have proper context yet. It does not take into account the number of vehicles with Level 2 driver-assist systems that automakers have made, the number of cars on the road, or the distance traveled by the vehicles. It is thus only meant to be a guide to identify possible defect trends and help determine if advanced driver-assist systems are actually improving vehicle safety. 

NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff shared his thoughts on the data during a media event. “I would advise caution before attempting to draw conclusions based only on the data that we’re releasing. In fact, the data alone may raise more questions than they answer,” Cliff said.

As per the NHTSA’s report, a total of 392 crashes were reported by 11 automakers and one supplier from June 2021 to May 15, 2022. Among this number, Tesla vehicles accounted for 273 accidents. Honda was a distant second with 90 reported accidents, while Subaru had 10. Ford reported five accidents, Toyota reported four, and BMW reported three. General Motors reported two accidents

Level 2 driver-assist systems are typically able to control vehicle functions such as steering, lane-centering, braking, and acceleration. Areas where the systems could be enabled vary among manufacturers. GM, for example, allows its Super Cruise system to be used only on pre-mapped US highways, but Tesla allows its Autopilot system to be used on more roads. 

Overall, the NHTSA’s data revealed that crashes involving driver-assist systems have resulted in at least six fatalities and five serious injuries. For context, the NHTSA has estimated that 42,915 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States in 2021. 

While Tesla leads the pack in accidents involving Level 2 driver-assist systems, the company also deploys the largest fleet of vehicles that offer driver-assist technologies. According to the Associated Press, Tesla has more vehicles with partially automated systems operating on American roads than other automakers, with an estimated fleet of 830,000 vehicles. 

In comparison, GM has reportedly sold just about 34,000 vehicles with Super Cruise since 2017. With this in mind, it is then unsurprising to see that there are more reported accidents involving Tesla Autopilot compared to other Level 2 systems from other carmakers. 

The NHTSA’s report can be viewed below. 

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NHTSA: Tesla accounts for almost 70% of Level 2 driver-assist crashes in the US, but don’t draw conclusions yet
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