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We’ve heard some conflicting information about the 2021 Tesla Model Y. While the Tesla Model Y receives high marks from safety crash testing, it also has a reputation for causing accidents with the autopilot system. 

How safe is the 2021 Tesla Model Y? 

Black 2022 Tesla Model Y charging at a charging station
2022 Tesla Model Y | Tesla

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2021 Tesla Model Y is incredibly safe. In fact, the Tesla Model Y earned the Top Safety Pick+ award, which isn’t the easiest score for SUVs to earn. 

IIHS removed the previous safety rating when Tesla switched from the radar system that was previously tested to a camera-only setup. Then it scored well in various tests with the updated collision avoidance system. 

The Top Safety Pick+ score is only attributed to models built after April 2021. IIHS shared that the conversion to the standard front crash system earns superior ratings in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. The available headlight system also earned a good and acceptable rating. 

Good and superior ratings are the highest scores a vehicle can earn. The Tesla Model Y scored good and superior ratings for almost every test, except for the headlights. The child seats also received an acceptable rating because the latches are too deep in the seat. 

Why would the Model Y be dangerous? 

The 2021 Telsa Model Y has a history of wrecks related to the Autopilot driver assistance system. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified 11 crashes since January 2018. 

First responders encountered scenes where one or more vehicles were struck by a Tesla. The NHTSA is aware of one death and 17 injuries that confirmed the use of Auto Pilot and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control. 

The system may allow drivers to keep their hands off the wheel for an extended period of time. They will investigate the technologies used to monitor, assist, and enforce driver engagement while driving with the Autopilot system. 

Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is being urged to develop standards for driver monitoring systems with safeguards to limit the use of automated control systems to the conditions they were designed for. 

Is the Tesla Model Y system easy to beat? 

A Tesla Model Y electric compact luxury SUV with a white paint color option
Tesla Model Y | ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

Watch the Tesla Model Y Send A Nissan Frontier Flying

According to Consumer Reports, it’s pretty easy to get around the 2021 Tesla Model Y’s Autopilot system. During testing on their track, the Tesla Model Y drove according to the painted lines while the driver seat was empty. 

Passengers in the back noted that the system failed to alert, warn, and indicate that the driver seat was empty. It couldn’t tell if a driver was paying attention or even there at all while Ford and General Motors are developing systems that require drivers to look at the road. 

Reportedly, the Tesla Model Y has received software updates that now allow the cabin camera above the rearview mirror to detect driver attentiveness and alert them while Autopilot is engaged. But this system hasn’t been evaluated yet. 

So, the 2021 Tesla Model Y will keep passengers in the cabin safe, but other drivers may be at risk. We hope that Tesla drivers remain alert behind the wheel instead of relaxing in the back seat.