Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster has shared a report on just how Tesla vehicles are safer than the others. In a tweet, Munster touched upon the pressure put on Tesla due to some recent accidents. He noted that the facts should speak for themselves.
#Tesla's gotten some heat lately for crashes potentially related to Autopilot. The facts should speak for themselves: Tesla reports 1 accident for every ~3.7m miles driven with Autopilot on, versus 1 accident per ~475k miles driven for all US vehicles.https://t.co/mcj85Ke9vj
— Gene Munster (@munster_gene) March 22, 2021
In the post, Loup Ventures pointed out that the issue is that some drivers believe that Autopilot can do more than it really can, and as a result, they don’t pay enough attention when Autopilot is engaged. Despite that, however, Loup Ventures reminded everyone that since 2016, there have been only three fatal crashes in which Autopilot was turned on — this is a far lower rate than in any other auto data we’ve seen.
“As with most transformative tech, there is naturally regulatory concern when failures happen. And given Tesla is the leader in the autonomous vehicle space, they are under a finer microscope,” the article noted. Tesla warns users — in multiple ways and repeatedly — that they need to be fully attentive even when Autopilot is in use. Some people just don’t do it. Some regulators don’t think Tesla’s warning is enough, but you have to actively and consciously ignore it. You cannot really “miss” it.
“Teslas Are Safer”
Loup Ventures emphasized that the scrutiny is missing the bigger picture, which is that Autopilot makes vehicles much safer despite being in its early stages. Autonomous vehicles are expected to drastically reduce vehicle fatalities over the next decade. Here are some key points that Loup Ventures shared in the article:
- Tesla reports one accident for every 3.7m miles driven while Autopilot is engaged. Over the past two years, the number of miles driven per accident with Autopilot on has increased 18%.
- For perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports one accident for every ~475k miles driven for all US vehicles.
- Separately, there are three tiers of autonomy features on a Tesla. When Active Safety Features are turned on but Autopilot is turned off, Tesla reports an accident per 2.1m miles driven, and one accident per 1.5m miles when both Active Safety Features and Autopilot are turned off.
Loup Ventures also stated that they believe autonomous systems will drastically reduce the number of vehicle fatalities in the same manner seatbelts did in the ’70s and onward but on a larger scale. “For perspective, there are still around 35k-40k vehicle fatalities every year in the US, around the top 10 causes of death. This equates to 11 fatalities per 100k people, compared to 25 per 100k in 1970.”
It’s true that there are demographic issues that influence crash statistics, and it’s true that new cars from other brands also have better safety features than older cars. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that even looking at Tesla vehicles alone, vehicles with Autopilot on get into fewer accidents than vehicles with it off and miles driven between accidents with Autopilot on have increased notably in recent years as Autopilot features have been expanded and improved.
At the very least, you cannot look at these data and say that Tesla vehicles using Autopilot are less safe.