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What’s Inside Tesla’s First Vehicle Safety Report?

By: Bridget Clerkin November 6, 2018
Tesla released its first quarterly safety report in response to a growing concern over the safety of the Model 3 and its Autopilot system.
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Public relations are notoriously tough for a business—especially when the business in question is notorious for taking risks.

So Tesla has, as ever, decided to take a novel approach to the problem—attempting to get ahead of any hype by proactively providing the public with a quarterly report on the safety of its vehicles.

The idea came up after the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, took a swipe at the media for its collective onslaught of coverage over a pair of accidents—one fatal—involving the vehicles this May. Not long after, he announced via Twitter that in an attempt to set the record straight, the company would soon be releasing its own records.

Earlier this month, the media got a whole new reason to write about the automaker when Musk and Co. made good on that promise, releasing the company’s first quarterly vehicle safety report.

The figures translate to Teslas finding themselves in traffic wrecks at a quarter of the rate of other vehicles.

And, according to the numbers, there was indeed some discrepancy between vehicle crashes and the reports on said accidents.

Between July and September of this year, the report notes, Tesla vehicles were involved in one accident or “crash-like event” (which include near-misses) for every 3.34 million miles traveled using its much-beleaguered Autopilot system engaged. Driving without the computerized assist resulted in an incident every 1.92 million miles.

The report draws comparison to national numbers, stating that Americans, on average, are involved in a crash every 492,000 miles, though it’s unclear where that statistic originates.

All told, the figures translate to Teslas finding themselves in traffic wrecks at a quarter of the rate of other vehicles, and 1/7 the rate of other cars when Autopilot is in use.

In a separate post released this month, the company credited its safety chops to a number of mechanical feats, including its Model 3’s perfect 50/50 weight distribution, crumple zones, and low center of gravity, which can reduce the likelihood of rollovers.

Still, as they do, some media members have taken issue with the one-page safety report—calling the numbers misleading and incomplete—as they don’t account for more subtle calculations, such as vehicle type or driver demographics.

Tesla itself says it’s trying to get a more complete picture of what leads up to accidents involving its vehicles and what goes on in the aftermath.

In the meantime, impatient reporters will just have to wait until next quarter to see if any of that new information makes the next release.

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