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Here’s a puzzle for you: Teslas have excellent crash test ratings and driver aid software. Yet Tesla drivers had the highest rate of accidents in 2023: 23.54 accidents per 1,000 drivers. What’s more, Tesla drivers don’t speed the most or drive drunk the most. So what’s going on here?

To come up with these numbers, Lending Tree pulled data from tens of millions of drivers’ insurance quotes. These quotes listed driving incidents between November 2022 and November 2023. Incidents included accidents, DUIs, speeding, and citations for breaking various laws. It broke these incidents down by 30 vehicle brands, with some interesting results.

Ram truck drivers had the most “speeding incidents” which came out to 4.42/1,000 drivers. Ram drivers also came in with the most incidents overall: 32.9/1,000 drivers. BMW drivers had the most DUIs, by a wide margin. In 2023, BMW drivers got 3.13 DUIs/1,000 drivers. That’s almost twice what the runner up got (Ram came in with 1.72).

Tesla drivers were involved in so many accidents, that the one category made them the worst drivers overall in 11 states, pulling ahead of Ram there. But if Tesla drivers are far from the worst DUI offenders or speeders, why are they crashing so often? The shocking answer may be autopilot software.

A smashed Tesla Model S that crashed into a storefront.
Tesla Model S accident | Kai Eckhardt/picture alliance via Getty Images

There are no statistics on how many of the above crashes occurred while sad drivers were using “Autopilot.” And Tesla is maintaining that the drivers, not the automaker, are responsible when a car using this system crashes. It has gone to court repeatedly to argue this point.

But here’s another statistic: Tesla recalled two million cars to fix “Autopilot” safety issues, after a long-running NHTSA investigation forced it to do so. This recall affects Teslas built since 2012, from every current model line.

This recall is an over-the-air software update. But because the NHTSA has deemed it critical for vehicle safety, Tesla must announce it and track its effectiveness like any other recall. The new software will do a better job tracking whether the human driver is paying attention to the road while “Autopilot” is engaged.

The recall is not a huge shock to many. Originally, Tesla Beta testers warned the self driving mode was dangerous. The automaker released it anyway. The NHTSA found Tesla cars on “Autopilot” were killing first responders parked in the breakdown lane and demanded a recall. At first, Tesla refused the recall and CEO Elon Musk argued that recalls are “outdated.” To be blunt, it was the first time an automaker has refused a recall in decades and forced the Department of Justice to get involved. After the ensuing subpoena, Tesla caved to government pressure and announced a recall.

For the sake of everyone on or near the roads, let’s hope this software update solves the Tesla safety issue. Learn more about the recent recall in the video below: