Skip to main content

As more drivers hit the road, car safety remains a hot topic. Some automakers have risen to the forefront of this conversation, earning acclaim for their new and improved safety features or ongoing commitment to road safety. But Tesla hasn’t always been synonymous with safety, with rumors about electric cars consistently making headlines. However, data shows that Tesla is an industry leader with a flawless history on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.

Tesla has a pristine NHTSA history

A blue 2023 Tesla Model 3 Long Range cruises a mountain road.
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) helps keep motorists and pedestrians safe by providing vehicle safety ratings. The U.S. government agency’s 5-Star Safety Ratings help consumers decide which cars might work best for their needs — and which they might want to avoid.

Tesla is a shining star on the NHTSA website, with 11 pages of results for over 100 Tesla EVs the agency has tested. Notably, no model has ever scored less than a perfect five-star overall safety rating.

A few Tesla models — such as the 2015 Model S 85D 5 HB AWD, the 2015 Model X 7 Pass SUV AWD, and the 2016 Model X 60D SUV AWD Later Release — are not rated for specific NHTSA tests. But all in all, these Tesla safety results are remarkable for a brand that’s still relatively new to the industry.

Does Tesla make the safest cars?

Tesla earns high safety marks these days, but the brand has a complicated history.

According to Vehicle History, some early Tesla EVs, including older Model S and Model X examples, reportedly caught fire. This safety issue was exacerbated by the chemicals and the heat buildup in the lithium-ion battery packs, which made the fires harder to put out.

Additionally, Vehicle History reports early Tesla models had malfunctioning door handles, making extractions during emergencies more challenging.

However, the brand overcame those challenges and, by 2019, received an Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) award.

Other facts about Tesla safety

Many myths still surround Tesla vehicle safety. But the facts speak for themselves, with the brand’s flawless NHTSA history and excellent safety features making these EVs attractive to consumers searching for a safe, eco-friendly vehicle.

Teslas are some of the safest vehicles on the road (even with the controversial Autopilot feature). A 2016 NHTSA study concluded that Tesla cars with the Autopilot function were involved in 0.8 crashes per million miles, compared with 1.3 crashes per million in cars without Autopilot. Critics have bashed the company’s semiautonomous driving system. Still, there’s not enough data to suggest whether Autopilot is anything other than a feature that could be safer than human-driven Teslas.

As with any other vehicle, Tesla car safety depends on the driver. Though its EVs are rocking and rolling through the NHTSA safety ratings, the company is still young. Time will tell whether Elon Musk’s automaker can maintain its momentum and remain a top choice for drivers seeking safety, comfort, and style.


Only 1 Tesla Model Made the IIHS 2023 Top Safety Pick List