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Tesla is one of the biggest names in the electric vehicle (EV) landscape. However, it’s not alone in the luxury EV segment, and competitors like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Lucid have the big T in their sights. Still, the automaker’s vehicles have a lot to offer, including the potential to keep you safe. So, are Tesla cars like the Model 3 or Model S safe enough to earn top safety scores from agencies like the IIHS? 

Is a Tesla a safe car in a crash?

Despite stories of thermal runaways and inextinguishable fires in some EV crashes, the modern Tesla lineup is top-scoring regarding safety. For instance, the Tesla Model 3 not only secured an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ in 2022 but also earned the rating in 2021, 2020, and 2019. 

Moreover, even with the volatility of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) when it comes to fires and thermal runaways, the Tesla’s cars don’t have the flammable liquid that internal combustion engine (ICE) applications have. As a result, fires are more infrequent, albeit no less challenging to extinguish. 

For instance, CBS Boston recently covered a case where a post-impact Tesla Model S burst into flames on a Boston highway. The car required over 20,000 gallons of water to defeat the instance of thermal runaway. 

How safe are Tesla vehicles?

Despite concerns about fire and the trustworthiness of autonomous driving systems, Tesla’s most affordable cars, the Model 3 and Model Y, get top safety scores. For example, the Model 3 and Y got five-star ratings for 2022 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Tesla cars with top safety scores, the Model 3 and Model Y, cruise down a snowy road.
Tesla Model 3 and Model Y | Tesla

The five-star ratings and low rollover risk metrics are in addition to the 2022 Top Safety Pick+ ratings from the IIHS. Moreover, both budget Teslas have exceptionally strong roofs in the unlikely event of a rollover, with the Model 3 taking as much as 20,835 lbs of peak force. 

However, the NHTSA and IIHS haven’t evaluated the Model S or Model X for their crashworthiness recently. However, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) gave the 2022 Tesla Model S a five-star safety rating. 

What makes Tesla so safe?

Tesla’s cars are safe due to their structural soundness and low center of gravity that resists tipping forces and prevents rollover accidents. Moreover, Tesla’s standard safety technology suite includes NHTSA-recommended features like automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. 

Are Teslas safer than regular cars?

Conventional vehicles operate with highly flammable liquids and high heat. Moreover, regular cars, especially tall SUVs, are at a greater risk of rolling over due to a higher center of gravity. In that vein, Tesla cars are safer than many ICE vehicles. 

However, the IIHS and NHTSA recognize many sensible vehicles with the same top marks as the Tesla Model 3 and Y. For instance, the 2022 Lexus ES 350 and Audi A4 also got the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ rating, even with conventional gas-powered applications. 

What do you think of Tesla’s safety credentials? Tell us in the comments below!


Is the Tesla Model Y Safer Than the Model 3?