Devastating News for Tesla as NHTSA Publishes 1st Report of Automated Driving Crashes


On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its first report on accidents involving vehicles operating with advanced driver assistance systems engaged, and Tesla earned the No. 1 spot on the list.

The study looked at crash data over an 11-month period ending on May 15.

According to the report, out of 392 crashes, 273 — or 70 percent — occurred with Tesla vehicles. Before my inbox fills up with comments from angry Tesla fans, one of the major reasons, but not the only reason, why the company topped the list is that it manufactures the most popular vehicles in the ADAS category. (I will address the other potential reason below.)

The Drive’s Rob Stumpf, an expert on automotive technology, pointed out that Tesla’s total number includes both vehicles equipped with standard Autopilot (Level 2 ADAS) and Full Self-Driving beta software (Levels 3 to 5).

The NHTSA describes Level 2 ADAS-equipped vehicles as those that “provide both speed and steering input when the driver assistance system is engaged but require the human driver to remain fully engaged in the driving task at all times.”

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FSD vehicles, which are still in the development stage, are not yet available to the general public. A separate NHTSA report explained that once the development stage has concluded, these cars “will be capable of performing the entire dynamic driving task under defined operating conditions and will not require a human driver to monitor and supervise the automation system.”

At any rate, Honda finished in second place with 90 crashes; Subaru had 10; Ford, five; Toyota, four; BMW, three; GM, two; and Volkswagen, Hyundai, Lucid and Porsche, one each.

Before starting this study, the NHTSA issued an order requiring manufacturers to report all crashes involving vehicles operating with either an ADAS or an automated driving system “active within 30 seconds prior to the crash,” The Drive reported.

Stumpf reported that the 30 second figure is significant because “the NHTSA recently revealed that it had discovered at least 16 separate instances when Tesla’s Autopilot system ‘aborted vehicle control less than one second prior to the first impact.'”

Returning to the high number of Tesla crashes compared to the other car manufacturers: As mentioned earlier, there are far more Teslas on the road than any other ADAS maker. That said, potential flaws in Tesla’s software could be contributing to the disproportionate number of Tesla crashes.

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In 2021, the NHTSA initiated a probe in its Office of Defects Investigation into Teslas striking parked vehicles at first responder scenes.

According to the report, “most incidents took place after dark and the crash scenes encountered included scene control measures such as first responder vehicle lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board, and road cones. The involved subject vehicles were all confirmed to have been engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes.”

Stumpf noted the NHTSA’s probe was recently “upgraded to an Engineering Analysis, which is the final phase before a possible recall.”

Safety statistics for “self-driving” cars is conflicting, at best. Because it’s so new, there’s very little historical data available from which to draw any real conclusions. This week’s report was the NHTSA’s first ever on crashes involving vehicles equipped with automated driving systems.

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Another reason for the inconsistencies between studies is the six “levels” of automated vehicles. The Society of Automotive Engineers provides a graphic on its website that highlights the features of each level. Vehicles that require no input from the driver (Level 5 automation) are not yet available to consumers.

We have to remember that this technology, although incredibly exciting and promising, is still in its infancy.

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Elizabeth writes commentary for The Western Journal and The Washington Examiner. Her articles have appeared on many websites, including MSN, RedState, Newsmax, The Federalist and RealClearPolitics. Please follow Elizabeth on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Elizabeth is a contract writer at The Western Journal. Her articles have appeared on many conservative websites including RedState, Newsmax, The Federalist,, HotAir, MSN and RealClearPolitics.

Please follow Elizabeth on Twitter.