NHTSA data reveals two new fatal crashes with Tesla ADAS features active, but there’s more to the story [Update]

nhtsa

Earlier this year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started publishing data on the number of accidents involving cars equipped with advanced driver-assist systems, otherwise known as ADAS.

Automakers were required to submit the data to the safety regulator under a new Standing General Order, but even the NHTSA themselves warned the data should not be used to draw safety conclusions due to a lack of contextual information.

In its most recent update of crashes with Level 2 ADAS systems involved, Tesla has reported two new fatal crashes, although a deeper dive into the data shows that caution must still be used before blaming the crash and fatality on Tesla’s Autopilot or Full Self-Driving (FSD) systems.

According to the data, the two crashes took place in December 2021 in Palm Springs and September 2022 in an undisclosed location, both involving a Model 3. The information for the ‘ADAS/ADS Version’ is redacted on both incidents as it “may contain confidential business information,” leaving it unclear whether Autopilot or FSD Beta was involved.

Much of the information around the September 2022 accident is listed as unknown, but more details are available for the December 2021 crash, showing that the ADAS system was active but appears to not have been the cause, or even a factor, in the crash.

The data shows that at the time “no unusual [roadway] conditions” were reported, and that the accident happened on a lighted roadway at night on a dry road.

The more interesting data is for “SV (subject vehicle) Pre-Crash Movement” and “SV Precrash Speed (MPH),” the report stating the Model 3 was “Stopped” and at “0” mph , indicating the Tesla car was an innocent bystander and that the ADAS system played no role in the crash.

Much of the rest of the information for the crash is either listed as unknown or redacted to prevent confidential business information from being released.

Reports of these two new fatal accidents has hit mainstream media this morning, but none of them mention that in at least one of them, Tesla’s ADAS systems appears to not have been the cause, or even a factor in the crash.

UPDATE 10:04am: The Palm Springs crash appears to be this one involving a drunk driver who slammed into a Tesla Model 3 that was stopped at a red light. Unfortunately the driver of the Tesla, 36-year old Leon Reynoso was killed. You can read more about the crash here.

If anyone knows the exact details of the accident in Palm Springs in December 2021, please reach out to us at tips@driveteslacanada.ca.

You can download the full NHTSA report here (MS Excel, .csv). The two crashes discussed in this article are Report IDs are 13781-3900 and 13781-4011.

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Founder and Editor-in-chief of Drive Tesla Canada | Darryn@DriveTeslaCanada.ca Have a Tesla tip? Email tips@driveteslacanada.ca, or DM us on Twitter @DriveTeslaca