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Replicating NHTSA's Extraordinary Safety Claims
about Tesla's Autopilot/Autosteer System

Closing Resume

Tesla Model S Post-crash.

NHTSA's Claims

Crash Site.

Site Scan.

Our full report, "NHTSA's Implausible Safety Claim for Tesla's Autosteer Driver Assistance System" can be downloaded from the document library at Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. by clicking the image below:

Download the Report.

Note: See the report for a link to the underlying data obtained through our lawsuit against the U. S. Department of Transportation under the Freedom of Information Act.


In January 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the remarkable claim that the airbag deployment crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent in Tesla passenger vehicles equipped with the Autopilot Technology Package following the installation of a new driver assistance system component, Autosteer. However, our replication of NHTSA's analysis of the underlying data shows that the Agency's conclusion is not well-founded.

The calculation of accurate crash rates of this type depend on reliable counts or estimates of both airbag deployment crashes as well as the mileage travelled exposing vehicles to the risk of a crash. But after obtaining the formerly secret, underlying data through a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against the U.S. Department of Transportation, we discovered that the actual mileage at the time the Autosteer software was installed appears to have been reported for fewer than half the vehicles NHTSA studied. For those vehicles that do have apparently exact measurements of exposure mileage both before and after the software's installation, the change in crash rates associated with Autosteer is the opposite of that claimed by NHTSA - if these data are to be believed.

For the remainder of the dataset, NHTSA ignored exposure mileage that could not be classified as either before or after the installation of Autosteer. We show that this uncounted exposure is overwhelmingly concentrated among vehicles with the least "before Autosteer" exposure. As a consequence, the overall 40 percent reduction in the crash rates reported by NHTSA following the installation of Autosteer is an artifact of the Agency's treatment of mileage information that is actually missing in the underlying dataset.

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