Don’t Be A Dummy, Buy A Tesla Model 3 If You Value Your Family’s Safety!

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Photo courtesy of Brady Holt (CC BY 3.0 license), via Wikimedia Commons

A few days ago, we wrote about Tesla earning the Top safety score (TOP SAFETY PICK+) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). I had publicly asked them last month why they hadn’t yet tested the car and was happy to get a reply that they were working on it. I’m not surprised how things turned out.

This isn’t the first safety award the Model 3 has gotten. It also got the top score from the NHTSA, as we noted here and here and here. In case you missed it, over the summer, Tesla also earned a record score in the European NCAP crash test and a top score in Australia, too!

I wrote about about safety more broadly in this article, in which I even highlighted the risk your car presents to others through its emissions and vehicle weight.

Great Spec Ad From Vivien Hantusch

If you are more of a visual learner, watch this great 1 minute video below!

Intrusion Into The Passenger Compartment

As I dove into the crash results, I was happy that Tesla once again got the highest available safety rating, but I wondered if there was any information buried in the technical measurements of the test. I decided to compare the measurements of the occupant compartment intrusion on the passenger side, which is one of the newest tests the IIHS does. Here’s an excerpt about that from IIHS:

Passenger-side small overlap frontal test

Manufacturers have responded to the driver-side small overlap test by improving vehicle structures and airbags, and most vehicles now earn good ratings. However, IIHS research tests demonstrated that those improvements didn’t always carry over to the passenger side. Discrepancies between the left and right sides of vehicles spurred us to develop a passenger-side small overlap test and begin issuing passenger-side ratings in 2017.

The passenger-side test is the same as the driver-side test except the vehicle overlaps the barrier on the right side. In addition, instead of just one Hybrid III dummy, there are two — one in the driver seat and one in the passenger seat.

I compared the Tesla Model 3 to a few selected cars in it’s class (midsize luxury 4 door sedans) and a similar class (midsize 4 door sedan). I picked the newest test, since the older tests have been designed in cars for years and I was looking for a test that showed differences between cars. I wondered if intrusion is related to injuries.  I found this report on the NHTSA website that says they are:

Overall the results from the logistic models indicated a statistically significant positive effect of intrusion on the likelihood of lower extremity injuries…

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As you can see in the chart above, the other top safety picks, including cars designed after the Tesla Model 3 (like the brand new BMW 3 Series), have a lot more intrusion into the passenger compartment than the Model 3. The cars that didn’t get safety awards seemed to have even more intrusion.

We have written about both the general safety advantages of EVs here and the we covered the Tesla specific innovations here. Watch the videos in those links to see how well Tesla designed the car to handle the toughest crashes. Think about how those crashes would be different if there was a large engine in the front to push into the passenger compartment. If you want more info on the IIHS test, follow this link. If you like videos instead of reading, check out their YouTube channel here!


Most of the discussion about the Model 3 is about its environmental impact, its upcoming full self driving capability, its incredibly great performance, and its very reasonable total cost of ownership. We really haven’t seen enough emphasis on the safety advances that Tesla has made with the Model 3 and its other vehicles. The safety aspects are one of the main reasons I want my whole family to be driving Tesla vehicles in a few years. Being financially responsible means I can’t do it all at once. The gas and hybrid cars they are driving were all selected because they were IIHS top safety picks at the time they came out. They aren’t as safe as a Tesla today, but they aren’t too bad either.

Use my Tesla referral link before October 1st to get 2,000 miles of free Supercharging on a Tesla Model S, Model X, or Model 3 (you can’t use it on the Model Y yet). Here’s the link: (but if someone else helped you, please use their link).

Related: 4 Reasons Why We Bought A Tesla Model 3

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Paul Fosse

I have been a software engineer for over 30 years, first developing EDI software, then developing data warehouse systems. Along the way, I've also had the chance to help start a software consulting firm and do portfolio management. In 2010, I took an interest in electric cars because gas was getting expensive. In 2015, I started reading CleanTechnica and took an interest in solar, mainly because it was a threat to my oil and gas investments. Follow me on Twitter @atj721 Tesla investor. Tesla referral code:

Paul Fosse has 233 posts and counting. See all posts by Paul Fosse