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Tesla defends autopilot in first quarterly safety report

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-10-05 16:49
A Tesla Model 3 is displayed during an auto show in Beijing. [Photo by Long Wei/For China Daily]

SAN FRANCISCO — US leading electrical automaker Tesla Thursday published its first quarterly vehicle safety report that said drivers on autopilot are safer than average from traffic accidents.

The release of the Q3 2018 Vehicle Safety Report came less than a week after Tesla CEO Elon Musk agreed to quit his chairman role with the company in a settlement reached with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last Saturday on Musk's controversial tweets about the automaker's future.

Tesla defended the safety of its vehicles in autopilot mode in the quarterly report, citing figures from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing one automobile crash for every 492,000 miles (about 791,797 km) driven across the United States.

In contrast, Tesla registered one accident or crash-like event for every 3.34 million miles driven while the autopilot is engaged, Tesla said in the report.

The Palo Alto, California-based company also said it recorded only one accident or crash-like event for every 1.92 million miles driven without autopilot, suggesting that Tesla's cars are involved in far fewer accidents than average.

Tesla spoke short of how it calculated or identified "near misses or crash-like events" in the quarterly report, only saying its customers' safety is the top priority of the company, which designs and builds "the safest cars in the world."

The US electrical car manufacturer said it has started further initiatives to gather accident data, including gathering "severe injury data from its customers following an accident" to help its engineers develop a more complete picture of safety.

"We also encourage our customers to proactively contact Tesla Support if they are ever seriously injured in a Tesla vehicle, or if they have suggestions about improving safety features," Tesla said.

Tesla has been questioned for the safety of its cars running in autopilot mode following a few deadly crashes involving its electrical vehicles earlier this year.

In March, an Apple engineer was killed on a California highway when his Tesla Model X crashed into a median barrier.

A few months later, a Tesla Model S slammed into a police SUV parked on the roadside in Laguna Beach, a seaside resort city in southern California. The driver was slightly injured and her car's autopilot was reportedly engaged at the time of the incident.

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