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  • Car safety has improved drastically over the years.

  • And one company appears to be leading the pack.

  • Teslas have consistently received five-star ratings from organizations that perform crash tests, such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

  • One reason you'd be safer in a Tesla is that electric cars don't have an engine, so all the steel and aluminum at the front crumples and absorbs much of the impact,

  • preventing it from being transmitted to the occupants.

  • The lack of an engine isn't the only reason they're safe.

  • It has to do with the overall structure of the vehicle.

  • They're difficult to roll over because they have a low center of gravity since the heavy battery pack and the electric motors sit low in the vehicle.

  • The American road safety regulator, NHTSA, determined that the mid-size SUV, the Model Y, has a rollover risk of about 8%.

  • Tesla says that's the lowest risk of any SUV ever built.

  • And lower than the chances of the Model X flipping over.

  • In the unfortunate event that it does overturn, the Tesla relies on the strength of its roof to protect the people inside.

  • The Model 3's roof has been found to resist more than 20,000 pounds of force - nearly six times its own weight.

  • Or, as Tesla points out, it can withstand the weight of about two full-grown African elephants.

  • The part of a car that offers the least amount of protection is the side - since there's no area designed to crumple, unlike the front and rear ends.

  • To get over this side panel weakness, Teslas have been heavily reinforced with ultra-high grade steel, shown in teal blue,

  • while the battery pack also acts as a barrier.

  • If there is a side collision, the Model 3 has a thick curtain airbag that also contributes to a high safety rating.

  • A real-world example comes to mind. In Oregon recently, the driver of a Model S crashed into a pole, hit two trees, and a telephone box.

  • The impact was so severe that hundreds of small batteries that work together to power the Tesla were ejected onto the road.

  • Despite the damage, the driver walked away with only minor injuries.

  • Teslas have also been engineered to try to prevent accidents in the first place.

  • A safety feature detects when the vehicle is drifting into another lane and then steers itself back.

  • And the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) recognizes obstacles and stops the car on its own.

  • But there are still some kinks to be ironed out.

  • When European safety experts Euro NCAP tested the braking system on a Model X,

  • it avoided hitting a dummy resembling a child while traveling at 25 km/h (16 mph).

  • But not at 30 km/h (19 mph) - though it did reduce the speed before impact.

  • This type of technology isn't new.

  • Volvo introduced an auto-braking function over a decade ago.

  • But Teslas differ because of their more advanced sensors which should technically be better at avoiding collisions.

  • A combination of cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors help with navigation.

  • The goal is to eventually have the vehicles drive themselves with no human driver at all.

  • You might say Level 5 autonomy is the holy grail.

  • Tesla's not quite there yet, but is moving in that direction.

  • Select customers have been able to beta test its full self-driving software - which works on both city streets and highways without any help from the driver.

  • However, the driver still has to pay attention and be ready to step in if the vehicle fails to respond properly.

  • So it's not yet autonomous, and if you ask rivals, that won't ever happen.

  • The CEO of Waymo, formerly known as Google's self-driving project, dismissed Elon Musk's company as a competitor,

  • saying he doesn't think Tesla's will ever be autonomous.

  • Musk fired back, tweeting: Tesla has better AI hardware and software than Waymo.

  • Tesla's full-self driving software is believed to be propelling its vehicles from Level 2 autonomy to Level 3.

  • The tech is a considerable improvement from Autopilot - which has cruise control but fewer features than FSD and is most often limited to highway use.

  • With any system that isn't fully autonomous, the driver has to remain alert. Not doing so can have fatal consequences.

  • In 2018, a Model X on Autopilot drove into a concrete barrier in California, killing the Apple engineer who had been playing a game on his iPhone

  • and failed to take over the steering of the car.

  • Although there have been concerns about the safety of automated Teslas, the company has still received stellar safety ratings with each new model it produces.

  • But five stars is not necessarily unprecedented.

  • The gas-powered Lexus ES 350 and the electric Audi e-tron both scored an overall safety rating of five on the NHTSA scale.

  • What's most important is the likelihood of someone getting injured or killed.

  • Tesla once touted the mass-market Model 3 as the safest car ever built.

  • Regulators took issue with that bold statement.

  • In a letter to Tesla, NHTSA accused the company of misleading consumers because they said it wasinappropriateto rank vehicles of different weights.

  • Tesla shot back, saying its statement was based on NHTSA's own calculations.

  • And the scuffle hasn't ended there.

  • In January, the government agency asked Tesla to recall 158,000 Model S and Model Xs over failing touchscreens,

  • which it said could increase the risk of crashes.

  • As if the making of this video, Tesla hasn't publicly made a statement.

  • So, depending on who you ask, it's up for debate whether Teslas are the safest vehicles out there.

  • But it appears they're leading the pack, and as the technology continues to improve, the hope is that safety will accelerate with it.

  • I hope you enjoyed the story. I'm Cindy Pom.

  • Just a little bit of an update for you.

  • For the past four years, I've lived in Europe. First in Paris, then in London. But I've recently made the decision to return home.

  • So, welcome to my little studio here in Toronto, where I will be bringing you more stories every single week.

  • I will see you very soon.

Car safety has improved drastically over the years.

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What Makes Teslas So Safe

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    joey joey posted on 2021/06/13
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