Tesla cars have been involved in the most autopilot-enabled crashes in the United States over the past 12 months. According to a US Department of Transportation report, they’ve been involved in more than 270 accidents — and the majority of those fatalities.

Between July 2021 and May 2022 there have been 367 accidents in the United States involving a car with autopilot engaged. A Tesla vehicle was involved in 273 of these 367 accidents, or almost 70 percent of the cases, according to a report by the US transportation agency NHTSA published on Wednesday.

The report includes vehicles with Level 2 Autonomous Driving capability. This means the car can accelerate, steer and brake on its own, even if the driver needs to remain alert.

Five out of six fatal accidents involving Tesla vehicles

In 11 of the 98 accidents for which information on the severity of the accident was given, there were five serious injuries and six fatalities. Tesla cars were involved in five of the six fatal accidents, according to the US newspaper “The Washington Post”. In 294 cases, no information was given on injured or injured persons.

Tesla explained that its Autopilot is safer than normal driving. The automaker cited the massive number of annual road deaths in the United States, which the NHTSA estimated at 42,915 last year. It’s also worth noting that Tesla also has the largest fleet of autopilot vehicles in the United States. According to NHTSA, Autopilot is installed in around 830,000 Tesla cars in the United States.

A total of eleven car manufacturers are listed in the report, although it does not show how many vehicles from each manufacturer were registered on the road. After Tesla, Honda is second with 90 accidents and Subaru with 10 accidents. The number of accidents of other car brands, on the other hand, is in the single digits: Ford has five accidents, Toyota four, BMW three and around VW and Porsche one each.

In 116 cases there was a collision with another vehicle, whereby the damage to the vehicle with autonomous driving function was mostly found in the area of ​​the front. The NHTSA did not provide information on the exact causes of the accident in its report.

Report not representative of all accidents

As of late June 2021, certain manufacturers and operators in the United States are required to report accidents involving a vehicle with Level 2 Autonomous Driving capability. The autopilot must have been activated 30 seconds before the accident. However, only accidents involving a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist were taken into account, if there was a death or injury, if the airbag was activated or if the vehicle had to be towed.

The report, released for the first time since mandatory reporting, is not statistically representative of all accidents because driving data recording varies by manufacturer, NHTSA said. Not all vehicles that have the autonomous driving function are therefore able to record the accident-related data and send it to the manufacturer. In such cases, the manufacturer is dependent on the vehicle owner reporting the accident. If this does not happen, the manufacturer ultimately does not find out about it either. In addition, there may be delays in reporting. Because of this, it is possible for one manufacturer to report more accidents than another.

It should also be taken into account that an accident report may be incomplete or unchecked, since a reporting agency does not have all the accident data before the reporting deadline has expired. In addition, there may be several reports of an accident, for example from the vehicle manufacturer and the autopilot supplier. This means that the total number of reports submitted is not the same as the total number of incidents.

However, accidents involving Tesla cars have been making headlines for several years. Just last week, the NHTSA expanded an investigation into the US automaker’s autopilot system.

Quellen: Summary Report NHTSA, The Washington Post