Tesla achieved a record level of safety with Autopilot with more than 50% improvement during the last quarter, according to its safety report.
Since 2018, Tesla has been trying to create a benchmark for its improvement in Autopilot safety by releasing a quarterly report that compares the number of miles per accident on Autopilot versus off of Autopilot.
In October 2018, we reported on Tesla’s first safety report, which was for the third quarter 2018.
At the time, Tesla said that it registered “one accident per 3.34 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged.”
For miles driven without Autopilot, Tesla said that registered “one accident or crash-like event for every 1.92 million miles driven.”
Over 2019, Tesla’s results were up and down, but the new data for the first quarter 2020 shows a significant improvement:
In the first quarter, we registered one accident for every 4.68 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot but with our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 1.99 million miles driven. For those driving without Autopilot and without our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 1.42 million miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 479,000 miles.
That’s a 50% improvement over the previous quarter and the most significant improvement yet.
However, it also came at a time that mileage went down. With some shutdowns in China early in Q1 and in other markets late in the quarter, Tesla saw an important reduction in mileage in its customer fleet.
I know that there are other problems with Tesla’s comparison, like the fact that Autopilot is primarily used on highways where it’s easier to accumulate a lot of mileage without accident versus non-Autopilot mileage coming from city driving, where accidents are more likely.
So you can’t really claim that Autopilot was twice as safe as human drivers as the data show during the last quarter, but it is still an interesting benchmark to follow when it comes to seeing how the accident rate of Autopilot changes over time.
However, you have to also keep seasonality in mind, since winter months also see more accidents.
In short, these reports are far from perfect, but they are still interesting to follow, especially if you compared only the Autopilot data over the same period of time.
For example, Tesla registered one accident for every 2.87 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged in Q1 2019. The number improved to one accident for every 4.68 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged in Q1 2020.
That’s a significant great improvement, and while other factors are at play, I am sure that improvements in Autopilot are also responsible.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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