Tesla Model 3 Not Bright Enough for Safety Accolades

By: Bridget Clerkin May 21, 2018
Tesla's Model 3 lost out on a top safety ranking from the independent insurance organization IIHS.
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Tesla may be known for its electric vehicles, but when it comes to powering a light bulb, the company could probably use some tips from Edison.

The car marker’s Model 3 has already been passed over for a top safety rating thanks to prevailing issues with its headlights.

The autos are currently undergoing stringent testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent organization that assesses vehicle safety on behalf of insurance companies. But the Teslas’ performance in the headlight tests have already made the Model 3 ineligible to receive the group’s highest designation of Top Safety Pick+.

Lamps are evaluated on the reach of their beams as vehicles travel down both straight and curved roads. While both high- and low-beams are tested, more weight is given to the latter. It’s the setting more frequently used by motorists.

Indeed, it was the Model 3’s low beams that stumbled. The lights create too much glare along straightaways, resulting in a designation of “Acceptable.” That’s the next-to-lowest score for the IIHS. A Top Safety Pick+ vehicle must receive at least a rating of “Good.”

The research group places high importance on headlight testing as more than half of deadly roadway crashes happen at night. Oftentimes, crashes happen on unlit roads. Out there, headlamps are the only source of illumination for drivers.

Yet, while the designation may automatically discount Tesla’s top safety bid, Model 3 owners can rejoice in its other result: the car was given a “Superior” rating for its front crash avoidance systems.

That’s also likely good news for any would-be purchasers of Tesla Models. The company’s name was once again associated with a brutal crash last week, when a Utah woman in a Model S hit a parked fire truck at 60 MPH. The driver suffered minor injuries. But, the vehicle’s autopilot was engaged at the time of the incident, spurring a federal investigation.

With that in mind, Telsa’s safety priorities may be in the right order after all.

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