Researchers at MIT tracked a number of Tesla Model S and Model X owners for more than 800,000 kilometers. They recorded the drivers during their rides to see how they drive when the semi-autonomous Tesla Autopilot assistant is on or off.
The research shows that drivers take their eyes off the road more often and for longer when Autopilot is on. They mainly look at the infotainment screen on the center console. About 22 percent of the looks on them last longer than 2 seconds. When Autopilot is turned off, drivers suddenly focus on driving again.
Logical, you would think. The Autopilot system takes over a number of tasks for you, just like the semi-autonomous assistants from other brands do. But Autopilot is still relatively limited in what it can do - despite Tesla boss Elon Musk's boasting - and always needs driver supervision. He is responsible.
Since 2018, Tesla has been tracking the number of accidents that occur with its models. This is expressed in accidents per mile driven and is broken down by cars with Autopilot off and Autopilot on. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that there is an average of one car accident every 484,000 miles in the US.
Tesla splits its figures into cars without Autopilot enabled (1 in 978,000), cars without Autopilot enabled but with active safety systems on (1 in 2.05 million) and cars with Autopilot enabled (1 in 4.19 million). The conclusion that Elon Musk connects to this is that a Tesla on Autopilot is ten times safer than the average car.
But that's probably not true. Autopilot is mainly used on the highway, where on average a lot fewer accidents occur than in the city or on country roads. And the data from the NHTSA isn't broken down by location, so you can't compare that data with the Tesla information.
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