Tesla Inc.’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) vehicle safety report for the first quarter of 2021 shows that the average distance per accident while driving on Autopilot has declined year-over-year.
What Happened: Tesla said that, in the most recent quarter, vehicles using Autopilot registered an accident for every 4.19 million miles driven. In the year-ago period, Tesla had recorded one accident for every 4.68 million miles driven with Autopilot engaged. The figures show that the average distance per accident while driving on Autopilot has actually declined.
Meanwhile, Tesla vehicles without Autopilot but active safety features turned on recorded an accident for every 2.05 million miles driven. The figure represents an improvement from Q1 2020 when Tesla recorded one accident for every 1.99 million miles driven.
In the latest quarter, Tesla drivers — who had neither Autopilot nor active safety features on — registered an accident for every 978 thousand miles driven. In the year-ago period, Tesla recorded one accident for every 1.42 million miles driven with autopilot and safety features turned off.
Tesla compares this data to recent data from the National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) that shows the U.S. sees an automobile crash every 484,000 miles.
Why It Matters: The data shows that the probability of being involved in an accident while a Tesla vehicle is on Autopilot has actually increased since last year. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed on Twitter that Tesla with Autopilot engaged is approaching a 10 times lower chance of accident than the average car.
Tesla’s quarterly safety report comes after it was reported over the weekend that a Tesla Model S car with no one in the driver’s seat crashed into a tree in Texas and burst into flames this weekend. It’s unclear whether the car was using Tesla’s Level 2 self-driving program.
The NHTSA has in recent years formed Special Crash Investigation (SCI) teams to look into Tesla crashes related to the vehicle’s Autopilot system.
However, Loup Ventures managing partner Gene Munster believes Tesla vehicles are safer with Autopilot despite the recent crashes that have put the technology under intense regulatory scrutiny. Though still in its early stages of development, the Autopilot technology has the potential to significantly lower vehicle fatalities in the coming decade, Munster said last month.
Price Action: Tesla shares closed 0.1% higher on Friday at $739.78.
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