By on November 30, 2021

Back when the Tesla Model S was new, it achieved something almost unthinkable for an upstart carmaker. I’m not talking about bringing a full-size electric sedan to market, and I’m not talking about building a seven-passenger sedan capable of Ferrari-baiting acceleration, either. What I’m talking about is the Tesla Model S’ outstanding 5.4 safety rating from the NHTSA – a score that was so high, it effectively “broke” the organization’s five-star scale.

The question of Tesla safety in the lab seemed to be settled, but – nearly 10 years on – we finally have some real-world data to look at, and the results are not quite what you’d expect from a car with “the highest safety rating of any car ever tested”.

I mean, unless you expected the Model S to have nearly 160x the fatality rate of a Chevy Bolt, anyway.

YES, 160 x

Tesla Deaths bills itself as a record of Tesla accidents that involved a driver, occupant, cyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian death, regardless of whether or not the driver was at fault. It’s an extremely comprehensive record, with links to accident reports and even news coverage of particular incidents, where available. And, when you visualize that data, the optics are very, very bad for Tesla.

Data from TeslaDeaths.com

At first glance, the graph is pretty shocking, with Tesla’s EVs generating obituaries at a rate that’s exponentially higher than companies like Nissan or Chevrolet.

When I see something wild like that, I start to look at the data, itself, to see what I can make sense of or poke holes in. In this case, I figured that Tesla sells a lot of cars – like, a lot of cars – so this probably had something to do with there being that many more Tesla plug-in cars on the roads than Nissan LEAFs or Chevy Bolts. Trouble is, the opposite was true.

Take a look at these 2021 “sales vs. death” numbers.

Car Sales Deaths
Tesla Model S 5,155 40
Porsche Taycan 5,367 0
Tesla Model X 6,206 14
Volkswagen ID 6,230 0
Audi e-tron 6,884 0
Nissan Leaf 7,729 2
Ford Mustang Mach-e 12,975 0
Chevrolet Bolt 20,288 1
Tesla Model 3 51,510 87

“Tesla clearly stands out,” writes Davi Ottenheimer of Security Boulevard, who compiled these numbers from IIHS data. “Another way to look at this is the Chevrolet Volt (billed as a small 4-door car) had just 7 deaths total despite a decade (2010-2020) of sales totaling 157,125.

In a Nissan LEAF, the fatality rate is 1:3865. In a Tesla Model 3, it’s 1:592. In the bigger Model S? The car with the highest safety rating ever recorded? It’s 1:128.

In some countries, you have a greater risk of dying in a Model S than from COVID-19 … so, like, what’s going on here?

SAFETY RATING vs. SAFETY

The facts are indisputable. More people die in Teslas, per Tesla, than they do in many other cars – electric or otherwise. That seems weird for a number of reasons, sure, but the ones that stand out to me are the company’s stratospheric stock price and that initial 5-star safety rating. Let’s start with the latter, then, shall we?

“Independent testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Tesla Model S a 5-star safety rating, not just overall, but in every subcategory without exception,” reads Tesla’s original, 2013 press release. “Approximately one percent of all cars tested by the federal government achieve 5 stars across the board. NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.”

It was a great line, and the press, at least, ate it up.

That wasn’t the only great line that Tesla’s crack PR team came up with, either. Five years later, at the launch of the more mainstream Tesla Model 3, Tesla hyped up its NHTSA testing again – this time with the headline, “Model 3 achieves the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA.”

They even included a graph.

Image courtesy Tesla.

So, how is it that the two cars on the road with the lowest probability of injury have one of the highest mortality rates? I’ll give you a clue, it’s definitely not because of Tesla’s controversial “Full Self Driving” Beta or Autopilot tech.

“Based on conclusions from completed and ongoing NHTSA investigations as well as expert testimony in court cases pertaining to the specific crashes,” reads Tesla Deaths’ homepage. “The confirmed total is currently ten crashes leading to ten deaths. That said, there are at least seven other incidents in the US alone that the NHTSA investigated according to a FOIA request from Reuters. Our dataset features the seven likely incidents.”

So, it’s (probably) not the autonomous drive features – is the problem the safety rating, itself? After all, it is absolutely possible to game the NHTSA tests by strengthening the chassis at the exact locations hit by the crash tests. You don’t have to take my word for that, though. Take Tesla’s.

“It is possible to game the regulatory testing score to some degree by strengthening a car at the exact locations used by the regulatory testing machines,” reads that same 2013 press release I mentioned. It’s worth noting, though, that Tesla makes this claim in defense of its 5.4 score, following that with, “After verifying through internal testing that the Model S would achieve a NHTSA 5-star rating, Tesla then analyzed the Model S to determine the weakest points in the car and retested at those locations until the car achieved 5 stars no matter how the test equipment was configured.”

So, assuming Tesla’s heart is in the right place and it really did build some really safe cars – something both the NHTSA and the IIHS have said, despite some PR hiccupsand that the self-driving cars aren’t out there whacking potential John Connors left and right, there’s really only one possible reason for all these Tesla deaths, isn’t there?

TESLA DRIVERS ARE ASSHATS

I bought my ’73 Super Beetle right around 2001. It was a fun little car, but that’s not what this story is about. What this story is about, then, is my uncle Ron, who I inherited the VW “bug” from (see what I did there?).

See, Ron told me that VW created the Super Beetle – which is a Type I with MacPherson struts in place of the torsion-bar front suspension – as a response to Ralph Nader’s anti-car classic, Unsafe at Any Speed, which blamed the rear-engine handling dynamics of the Corvair for a number of traffic fatalities.  “With that suspension on it,” said Ron, “it’s impossible to flip that car.”

Is it, now?

From that moment on, the ’73 Super was driven like it was rented, then stolen, then sold with a fake VIN, then rented, then stolen again. That car lived so much of its life sideways, it had more lovebugs on the doors than it did the windshield – and, I assure you, you can flip a Super Beetle.

I was younger then, though – not yet a father and definitely a bit of an asshole (more than now, yes). I took “you can’t flip that car” as a challenge back in those days, in the same way that I still take “all you can eat” as a challenge. Now, imagine there’s a whole lot of guys like me. Overgrown children with no regard for the safety of the people around them, willing to endanger themselves and others for a little bit of automotive thrill, and give them a 10-second car.

Next, tell them that 10-second car is safe. Like, OMG it’s SO safe, you guys. It’s so safe that it’s the safest car ever built. Ever!

Sprinkle in a dash of self-righteous environmentalism and you have a recipe for disaster.

I don’t think the cars are the problem, guys. If they were, I imagine that stratospheric stock price I mentioned earlier would be getting gobbled up by payouts in wrongful death claims. No, the problem here isn’t a loose nut, it’s the nut behind the wheel.

That’s my take – but you’re the Best and Brightest. You tell me if you think I figured this one out.

[Lead image: Telsa]

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74 Comments on “Opinion: How Many Deaths Does Tesla Consider Acceptable?...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Agreed.

    High speeds usually precede Tesla fires, also.

    But in any crash, the Tesla will still be the safest vehicle, even if it can’t save you from yourself.

    • 0 avatar

      “even if it can’t save you from yourself.”

      In the new “woke” normal it is not an option – everyone is a victim. Feel free to sue Tesla if you are still with us.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Deaths per mile driven would be the most useful statistic in this analysis.
        You can’t compare the annual number of Asian deaths to Caucasian deaths in Japan, for example. Per capita comparisons would be meaningful.

        Or, as Paul Harvey used to say, “many or most” people dying in electric cars are dying in Teslas. It appears to make a valid point, but is absolutely meaningless.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    A part of me also feels like the life of a Tesla driver may be worth a little less. Fingers crossed on those Audi e-tron and Ford Mach-e numbers coming up.

    • 0 avatar

      This is horrible, and I can’t bring myself to agree, but I did laugh. XD

      • 0 avatar
        96redse5sp

        Can you give us some sort of clue as to how many people in Teslas have died in car accidents? And then maybe provide us with those figures for other makes? Then we could compare them and see how Tesla stacks up. I’d be interested to see if Teslas really are the safest vehicles for drivers and passengers, using real-world data instead of just the crash test results.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Based on your writing you seem like someone who wants American companies to succeed. But you’re rooting for Audi?

      There is a lot to unpack here. Is it just contrarianism and if Ford became the new Tesla you’d feel the same way about them?

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      I think the lesson here is that speed kills. This has always been true.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        No, irresponsible speed kills. I am curious as to how many of the deaths involve Autopilot being engaged…in a “normal” crash many drivers get in a good lick of brakes before impact. So, as 70 mph cruising speed might be 40 at impact. Contrast that to an inattentive driver running at 70 with Autopilot engaged. Their impact speed may well be 70 or only slightly less. That would up your death rate for sure.

        Are Tesla drivers “asshats” compared to other drivers? I’d say they are no worse than average. The biggest tools behind the wheel have to be BMW drivers. Either they are as clueless as the stereotypical Buick owner or total a-holes because they are driving a “superior German car”…

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          Of course we all only have anecdotal evidence when it comes to asshattery by the public at large, but I feel like I have NEVER seen a Tesla being abused, weaving through traffic, burning out from stoplights, etc. Perhaps because they aren’t very reliable and are coddled, perhaps their owners are hypermiling, who knows. I feel like almost everyone I encounter, I am the one doing the passing. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen though.

          But around here, pickup truck drivers are far and away, by an order of magnitude, the most aggressive and dangerous asshats on the road. Almost to the point where they have cornered the entire market on asshattery. If someone were to crunch the numbers, I am sure the increased percentage of pickup trucks on the road driven by non-commercial motorists has a direct correlation to increased traffic death/pedestrian death/cyclists, etc.

          That will never happen though because news publications want the ad dollars, slandering pickup trucks is somehow akin to slaughtering a bald eagle and cleaning up the mess with an American flag and is sure to get you cancelled by the right. Just like how everyone is up in arms about gas prices blaming Biden but not a single news story ever suggests that perhaps one root of the problem is that Americans are making the least efficient vehicle purchase possible every time they get the chance and then scratching their head as to why supply has trouble keeping up with demand.

    • 0 avatar
      96redse5sp

      You do realize that the numbers given don’t provides us with any clue whatsoever about how many Tesla drivers have died in accidents right? (Or Tesla passengers, for that matter).

      In fact, there’s no data here and no numbers at all that give us any idea how safe or deadly it is to be driving or riding around in a Tesla. From this article, and from the cited source, it’s impossible to conclude if ANYONE in a Tesla has EVER died in an accident. I know from reading other news sources that they have, But without the actual numbers, it’s impossible to say how safe Teslas are.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I don’t know if I can agree with this assessment. I think it’s a combination of driver mentality and inattentiveness, personally. There are more Tesla’s here in Honolulu than Camry’s (sarcasm, but only slight) and I’ve NEVER seen a Tesla being driven erratically. They’re always being driven exactly like everyone else in traffic, if not more sedate. If anything, of the ASTRONOMICAL percentage of cars on the road here with body damage for reasons I won’t publicly state because I don’t feel like fighting stereotype battles, even rather new cars included, Tesla’s never seem to be damaged.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Lord Musk needs to put a call into Dearborn on this, I think if they dust off the Pinto documentation they could give him a figure.

  • avatar
    Margarets Dad

    I dunno. How many deaths does TTAC consider acceptable? Practically every day, Healey permits Posky to regurgitate the kinds of conspiracy theories about the vaccine and mask-wearing that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

    “Overgrown children with no concern for the safety of people around them” sounds like a perfect description of Healey and Posky.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    OMG, a Posky take I agree with. Teslas do attract far more than their share of a$$hats, and then they enable the a$$hats to accelerate to 120 mph within a few blocks, turning an average Mustang curb mishap into a fatal crash.

    But Posky’s not going to agree with my solution: geofencing that restricts both acceleration and speed (of all cars, not just Teslas) in any place where pedestrians are permitted.

    This past Friday night, yet another driver doing 70+ mph on my neighborhood street (speed limit 25) lost control while trying to make an illegal pass of another car, slammed into my neighbor’s Audi A3, and ricocheted off it onto the sidewalk. After flying 100 feet further down the sidewalk he took out a tree and came to a stop. It’s pure luck that nobody was on the (well-used, because it is primary route to a nearby park) sidewalk at the time. The A3 was totaled, but we’re just thankful no one was hurt. There’s just no reason it needs to be physically possible for a car to do 70 mph on my neigborhood street.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Here are a few thoughts- Teslas are often the first choice for people who hate cars and driving. I’ve often seen behaviors that look like the drivers aren’t engaged in the experience.

    It’s worth noting what the teslas hit vs other cars to cause the deaths. Because of the ‘lightning rodness’ of this car, many of their accidents are publicized and some deaths I recall: vs bridge abuttment (more than once), vs stopped semi (more than once), vs front of building (at least once), vs stopped ambulance (more than once)- these are tesla involved fatalities that I recall and basically these represent unmovable or barely movable objects for the Tesla- the ambulance is probably 15k lbs and so it’s hard to say which gave more between that and the front of the building. Most of the pictures I recall seeing were the model s, I don’t think I ever remember seeing a model 3 fatality picture even though they happen quite a bit more often per that chart.

    It would be interesting to see a breakdown by cause, but my guess is it’s a combination of disinterest and inattention + distracting interior + lack of cues on speed (very silent and isolating) + faith in self driving that may not be fully baked.

    It would also be helpful to see the number of accidents reported involving Teslas vs other cars that aren’t necessarily fatalities- like carfax reports- that would help isolate whether its an unsafe car or unsafe behaviors.

    Just for comparison- the Chevy Cobalt that had such a bad fatality rate was only 117 deaths per million registered years per wiki- I don’t know how many “registered years” the above translates too but thats got to be a higher ratio than the cobalt.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “Teslas are often the first choice for people who hate cars and driving.”

      Yeh…no.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        Demographics show that tesla owners driver their cars on average far fewer miles than average and are typically driven by relatively affluent adults who have been able to work from home and avoid commuting, etc. I said it glibly but there are a lot of stats that back that up.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          People who don’t care about cars and driving buy really expensive high performance vehicles? That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Tesla owners drive less compared to drivers of similarly priced luxury vehicles? Presumably S class Mercedes drivers tend to live near the office as they can afford to.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            So Tesla owners for S and X and Y are average 54, make twice as much as average (around 150k) per year, they tend to live further from work than average and telecommute more. 75% don’t have kids (which is unusual for the age demographic). The largest single traded in marque for all teslas is toyota followed by honda then bmw then ford. For the Tesla 3, the top traded in cars are Honda Civic and Accords, Prius, Leaf, and BMW 3 series. For their salary range they have a much higher than average percentage of ‘self employed professionals’.

            I’m not saying all tesla owners hate cars, I’m saying people who hate cars and driving tend to view teslas as the exception car that they love. Go look at the comments in places like the ‘inside ev’s’ forum. It doesn’t look anything at all like the people racing hellcats on youtube.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo2

            MrIcky,

            Drive twice as much as the owner of a similarly priced luxury car?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Tesla owners are typically book smart, tech geeks, degreed professionals, etc, and they’re not exactly known for their love of driving.

    The “self driving” gimmick does absolutely nothing for me, but for a section of the driving public, it’s like moths to a flame.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Your comment about tech geeks reminds me of a now dead Model 3 owner from the Bay area. He was on Autopilot in a construction zone and, due to degraded lane markings, the car split the difference at a Y and ran him into the end of a Jersey barrier. The kicker is that, a few days earlier, he had complained to Tesla about Autopilot’s misbehaving in the same place. The guy was a software engineer and should have known better than to trust the car after his first bad experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        Yet he was sold a self-driving car with “autopilot”.

        I can’t sell rat poison called “Candy”, and expect to escape liability, no matter how many times I explain that it’s not to be eaten.

        I simply do not understand how he has gotten away with it for so long.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @Ol Shel:

          If your rat poison comes with a label that says “DO NOT EAT; NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION”, then you can sell it.

          Similarly, AP tells the driver to remain vigilant at all times, in keeping with its SAE Level 2 capabilities.

          The *name* of AutoPilot is misleading, but the feature does not claim to be more than it is.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Technically, legally, yeah whatever, who cares?

            But sure as sh!t Tesla sales staff are telling buyers the cars are self driving and to disregard silly legal stuff put there by the lawyers, the goofy culture we live in, etc.

            They’re dealing with buyers that may be geniuses in their chosen fields, but not so car savvy, OK, dumb and were eating up the BS before it was served.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            Autopilot is an appropriate name. In aviation all an autopilot does is hold heading and altitude or VS. It does not watch for terrain or obstacles, that is the pilots job. All autopilot is in aircraft is workload reduction. Same in the car.

            FMS is far more capable and will fly the entire route, but will still fly you into something if you program it wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          islander800

          It seems the deregulation fever that has infested Washington for decades now has castrated NHTSA’s powers of enforcement. I too have wondered how Musk gets away with calling his feature “auto pilot”. He knows darned well people are going to treat it as such. Remember how back in the 60s auto makers were required to “soften” surfaces inside vehicles, like pointed metal dashboard knobs, which became rounded plastic instead, to reduce accident injuries? Now we have not only Tesla but every other auto maker, copying Tesla, tacking sharp-edged stand-alone display screens above the dash line. What’s with that?? They may not be metal but I bet sharp shards of broken computer screen would cause their share of soft body tissue damage in crashes – yet not a peep from NHTSA…

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I think you’re referring to the Model X driver whose car struck a barrier that had not yet been repaired after having been taken out a week earlier by a Prius or something.

        But yes, AP was engaged at the time.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    What about comparing the death rate per collision? Problem would be how to account for severity/type of collision.

  • avatar
    random1

    2021 sales vs deaths is a useless metric. Tesla hardly sells the S any more, aside from the Plaid. Deaths per million miles driven or the like would be far more relevant. Tesla has sold about 160k S in the US (per Wikipedia). I suspect the rate is still higher than average, but the chart above is just silly.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The moron didn’t even get the sales numbers right. It’s fabricated data and comparisons. Obviously slanted to be biased against tesla. The fact they were trying to compare them just against other electric cars. The other idiotic thing with this is comparing collisions of all years of teslas against just 2021 Tesla sales. Even then the idiots got the 2021 sale wrong. What kind of incompetent statistician would do that. What kind of meaningful comparison would you get comparing annual sales of a particular year against accidents by vehicles of all years?

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I admit that I didn’t read the entire article, but the chart caught my eye and I read that section twice. It’s garbage.

      Their source comes from a site called “tesladeaths”. No bias there. Were those deaths only against cars that were sold in 2021? How about miles driven? Different states and countries count deaths differently. Was the data normalized per state and country?

      Oh wait, TeslaDeaths flat out admits that it counts any death of anyone, where a Tesla was involved, regardless of fault or cause. Fall off the roof, get a ride to the hospital in a Tesla, and die at the hospital? Tesla’s fault. Did they do the same for all of the other vehicles?

      The source is absurd. Minimally, pull data (again normalize it) from official sources, not an organization with a chip on it’s shoulder.

  • avatar
    BSttac

    At what point do you just accept this as natural selection? If you are dumb enough to believe Autopilot or FSD beta works then its hard to have a sympathy for them. Sadly they are taking out innocent people with them at times. I still think that when a Tesla driver has Autopilot or “FSD beta” running the car needs a siren that turns on to notify everyone around them that this idiot has no control of there vehicle. Let them crash into a white wall on there own away from those who don’t want to partake in this Elon experiment

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    I think horsepower and acceleration are a big part of the issue. Crashes with deaths typically happen at speeds much higher than the 40 mph they are tested at. Historically, powerful cars were few, were typically 2 seaters, and were not daily commuters. Could it just be that these efficient family sedans that people are commuting to work with, with all the stress and frustrations that entails, have over 500 hp at their disposal, on a whim? And perhaps high powered cars should be held to a higher safety standard, just like race cars. Perhaps there should be a sliding scale for speeds they are crash tested at correlating with horsepower. Just throwing out ideas.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      If horsepower and acceleration are a big part of the issue, why is the claim rate for Corvettes as low as it is? Answer is that Vettes are fairly expensive toys bought by older people who, like it or not, have a lower frequency of claims than other groups. Now, statistics can tell you what you want. Older drivers typically drive far less than younger ones, so on a miles driven basis, the oldest drivers have the second highest involvement rate, only surpassed by teens. But from an insurance point of view, they only care about frequency of involvement which is what results in payouts. They don’t care if the car only sees 2000 miles a year. I recall reading about a few years where the Prius had made the Top 10 list of highest claims. Clearly they are not speed demons but they usually drive far more miles per year than average. More use, more exposure, more risk. Simple as that.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Jo Borras.
    This story is an example of why i keep coming back to TTAC. Nobody else would do a story like this. Congrats.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I think the typical Tesla driver is a software engineer in Silicon Valley, fresh off the boat from Bangalore or Shanghai, who got his driver’s license in the last five years.

  • avatar
    Greg Hamilton

    The Tesla safety claims do mimic those of Cirrus aircraft when they were first introduced. Like the Tesla, the Cirrus was fast and slippery (low coefficient of drag) when compared to its competitors.
    The Cirrus had a built in ballistic parachute that you could pull in case of emergency and the plane would meet the ground in a somewhat controlled fashion. It was touted to be the safest general aviation (GA) aircraft available. It had other safety features as well such a single throttle/prop control, a stall resistant wing and fixed landing gear. All these safety features should make it the safest GA aircraft, but it was not initially. In fact in the first few years of production it had a startlingly high fatality rate.
    As the article suggests, if you buy the safest car (or plane) you may become complacent. Also some might say as with any new high priced product, there is a tendency to show off.
    Thankfully with increased training recommendations from the factory Cirrus has proven to be safe airplane.
    Hopefully Tesla cars will prove to be safe as well.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Here is some interesting data:

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2019/05/14/fatal-attraction-these-are-the-deadliest-cars-on-the-road/

    The Corvette has the second highest fatality rate per billion miles traveled. But I’ve also heard they are very inexpensive to insure because the jorts and white sneaker crowd who buys them rarely crashes. Is it that they seldom crash but the few crashes that occur are deadly?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Vettes generally see pretty low mileage – my 2014 just cracked 20K this month. That is pretty typical. So frequency of involvement is low even if the death rate in actual accidents is high. High death rate does not mean the car is unsafe. Any vehicle with such high handling limits will be a risk of injury/death when it leaves the road sideways at 70 mph…another interesting factoid about Vette deaths is a very high percentage of driver deaths are not the registered owners…and BTW, I’m not over 60 and will never wear jorts or white sneakers…

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    One Tesla driver that I know of that might the stereotype. I saw a video of this guy and I think his wife in a Model 3. They got out on the salt flats west of Salt Lake City and went to top it out and lost control well in excess of 100 miles an hour. The car just slid around, (a few 360’s if I remember right), did not flip, and came to a stop and when it was all over the driver and the passenger were giddy and giggling like 10 year olds. Seriously, it looked like in their minds they had just taken an amusement park thrill ride rather than cheating death in a seriously powerful and potentially lethal machine.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    “Hey, as long as you don’t blow out their stack, they’re fine right? They can get a new sleeve.”

    -Musk (probably)

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    Some (all?) Teslas have electrically-extending exterior door handles which have shown to be failure prone. This has prevented rescuers from reaching passengers after accidents. They have not come up with a mechanical override.

    Elon Musk is an autistic billionaire. He does not have the ability to care about others. (IMO)

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The big sellers – the Model 3 and Model Y – have handles which pull out by hand.

      You’re thinking of the older Model S and Model X, which are low volume products.

      But OK, callous Mr Musk is still allowed to build spacecraft that dock with the International Space Station.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        “The big sellers – the Model 3 and Model Y – have handles which pull out by hand.”

        Except from the inside. There’s no inside manual release for Model 3 rear doors, as far as I know.

        https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/model-3-rear-door-no-unpowered-emergency-release-safety.179083/page-5

        I find the constant chorus of “oh, it doesn’t matter” from the Tesla fanboys amazing.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “Except from the inside. There’s no inside manual release for Model 3 rear doors, as far as I know.”

          I noticed my friend’s Camaro had the same issue. Anyway, you’ve probably got bigger problems if the front passengers decide to escape and leave you to die without opening the rear doors. If you do want to escape and seek revenge on those people, fold one of the rear seats down and use the manual release on the hatch to escape. You could also crawl out between the front seats and use the front door to escape.

          • 0 avatar
            SPPPP

            Unfortunately, frontal crashes often jam front doors. If you have luggage in the hatch, the hatch avenue may not work well either. Frankly, I just think it’s unconscionable not to include a manual release. And even a hidden manual release is not a good idea.

            I am thinking of that Texas crash where the two people died in the back seat of the Model S. (Regardless of Autopilot or not.) It looks to me like they both could have survived if they had gotten out. Did the crash jam the rear doors as well? Or were they unfamiliar with the emergency release procedure in a Model S? In the panic of a crash, it’s going to be hard to figure it out.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    @Jo Borrás,

    There are some significant issues with the numbers as presented by Davi Ottenheimer. For example, NHTSA shows 20 Nissan Leaf vehicles involved in fatal accidents (that is vehicle count, not body count) through 2019 (latest available) in the U.S. alone. [The 218 ‘tesladeaths’ figure is all-time global – 155 is the U.S. portion and both figures are body counts not vehicle counts.]

    Some of the points you raise (e.g., driver behavior) might still stand at the end of the day?, but the numbers need to be adjusted.

    The ‘tesladeaths’ all-Tesla USA figure through 2019 is 83 (deaths, not vehicles) if my math is correct. NHTSA shows 82 Tesla vehicles (vehicles, not deaths) involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. through 2019. So the figures *roughly* align (‘tesladeaths’ might be missing some and this would make sense by my understanding that they rely on news reports for their fatality information).

    TL;DR: tesladeaths.com is a fairly reasonable source of information on Tesla-involved fatalities, but is not a good source (not even close) for non-Tesla information. (If you examine the purpose behind that site it makes perfect sense.)

    If you would like to dig deeper, here’s your first homework assignment:
    https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/query
    ‘Vehicles’ tab
    Under ‘Select Time Frame’ select all available years
    Under ‘Select Vehicle Make and Model’ select Tesla
    Under ‘Build Your Report’ drag ‘Crash Date (Year)’ to ‘Rows’ and ‘vPic: Vehicle Make and Model’ to ‘Columns’
    Hit ‘Submit’

    You’ll see the 82 Tesla vehicles broken out by Model over time (and yes there are some interesting trends to observe).

    And of course you can modify your query any way you want – if you are interested.

    Or you could keep it at surface level and take other people’s hit pieces at face value. Your choice – this is America. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ToolGuy Sir, Just file under TL/DR: I’m one of the more copious contributing editors at TTAC; when numbers get combined with letters, I get all sorts of confused.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    I think that the real measure is a comparison of deaths per million (or billion, whatever) km driven for each model and it makes more sense to test all models, not just EVs. There aren’t enough of most other EVs on the road to get a good data set.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @statikboy: “I think that the real measure is a comparison of deaths per million (or billion, whatever) k”

      You’re correct. Trying to blame Tesla somehow for DUI accidents is ridiculous. The accident occurred because the driver was drunk. Not because of some vehicle design defect.

  • avatar
    nb

    Deaths are related to the cumulative number of cars sold and still on the road. Tesla has sold orders of magnitude more vehicles than those manufacturers since 2010 (2-3M at least), and as a result deaths in the current year look inflated relative to current year sales.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Folks, the reason is asphyxia from inhaling their own farts.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    “How many deaths does Tesla consider acceptable?”

    Yes.

    Remember – consumers are considered beta-testers for the automotive industry.

  • avatar

    There is a reason why the major manufacturers have not jumped into the space. Do you think Toyota Benz and General Motors can do this ? Of course but they know not to.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    How many deaths? As many as it takes to work out the kinks in the “Autopilot” system.

  • avatar
    vvk

    How about per mile driven? Due to superior charging infrastructure Tesla vehicles are driven far more than any other EVs. I put about 30-40k miles per year on my MS.

  • avatar
    96redse5sp

    This whole article is nonsense. Meaningless numbers draw meaningless conclusions. How can you draw any conclusions about the safety of Teslas for Tesla drivers or passengers when you have no data or numbers of deaths to work with? Did you not notice how the “Tesla deaths” are defined?

    “Tesla Deaths bills itself as a record of Tesla accidents that involved a driver, occupant, cyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian death, regardless of whether or not the driver was at fault”.

    So if a Tesla mows down and kills five pedestrians in a crosswalk, that’s counted as five “Tesla deaths”. Those deaths have no bearing on how safe it is to be in a Tesla. If a Tesla crashes head-on into a minivan and kills all the occupants, those are all counted as “Tesla-desths” – even if everyone in the Tesla walks away.

    How about you show us some data about how many Tesla occupants have died in accidents? I’m guessing that number will paint a whole different story…

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    The linked “study” and the author’s comments about it are laughable – purely transparent hit pieces that serve zero honest purpose.

    This type of piece is an illustration of just how far this site has fallen from its early/glory days. Sad indeed.

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