Tesla Safety Features: Airbags, Autopilot & More

Tesla has more amazing safety features in their electric vehicles than most people give them credit for. They design their vehicles with a safety-first ideology. And more often than not, they go the extra mile to make your vehicle safer. Even though they don’t have to – in order to pass local safety tests and standards.

World Class Safety Record

This is why Tesla vehicles have a world-class safety record and come out on top of most safety tests around the world. Including NHTSA and many others.

The Tesla Model Y recently scored the best ever results in the European Safety tests. And this is not the first time such things have happened. Most other models have done the very same. The Model Y just happens to be the safest vehicle yet!

Before that, the Model 3 had the lowest probability of injury, and then the Model S and X before that. Tesla improves with every model and beats the competition on safety.

Tesla Safety from NHTSA – Injury Probability leader in all models

Tesla also reports on the safety of their vehicles on a quarterly basis, in terms of crashes per mile. And compares itself to the industry as a whole, just so you can see how they are doing.

Battery Pack Safety Features

In the rare case of damage, Tesla battery packs are designed to provide thermal protection by spreading heat away from the occupant cabin and battery, helping to prevent fires and protect occupants. From 2012 to 2020 in the US, Tesla vehicles were approximately ten times less likely to catch fire per mile driven compared to average gas vehicles

Tesla battery packs are thought to be quite dangerous because of the perceived fire danger of Lithium batteries. However, Tesla has worked hard to help prevent fires and protect occupants at all times.

The battery packs are specifically designed to spread any heat away from the cabin to help stop any fires and provide protection to the vehicle’s occupants. Statistically, this has proven to be true with vehicles being involved in 10 times fewer fires per mile driven than the average gas-powered cars in the USA.

The battery’s weight and position at the bottom of the vehicle is particularly advantageous. It helps to make the vehicle more stable on the road during turns. And, it also helps to prevent rollover in the event of an accident.

Structural Battery Pack

The newer structural battery used in the Tesla Model Y is even better. It is designed as an integral part of the vehicle. This provides not only battery safety, but battery structural integrity.

The battery pack forms part of the lower structure of the vehicle. This increases stiffness and helps absorb impact energy during collisions too.

Advanced Airbag Protection

Tesla does not sit still on vehicle safety features and always tries to exceed all the standards. One of the areas where they have been particularly successful is with airbags. They have far more airbags in their electric vehicles than most manufacturers resulting in very high safety scores on NCAP and European safety tests.

The exact airbag configuration depends on the specific Tesla model and year. However, in general, there is

  • driver and passenger airbags
  • driver and passenger knee airbags
  • seat-mounted side airbags
  • curtain airbags along the roofline

The main driver and passenger airbags are also inflated to a level that depends on occupant’s weight and position. Airbags also do not deploy when not needed.

The knee airbags are used in conjunction with the front airbags to keep the driver and passenger in position to best use the other airbags and reduce any injury

Side airbags deploy no matter which side the collision is coming from.

The curtain airbags help prevent injury during a rollover event.

However, things get even safer with a driver’s knee airbag and also full length “curtain” airbags along the roofline.

New Model Y Mid-Cabin Airbag

Tesla new airbag - mid-cabin airbag Model Y

Tesla is forever increasing safety in their vehicles and the Model Y is another example of that. The latest addition to the Model Y is a mid-cabin airbag that deploys between the front seats. This helps to reduce injury when occupants hit one another during a collision.

Vehicle Crumple Zones

Tesla Model 3 structure

In most non-electric vehicles the crumple zones at the front are limited by the engine. In an electric vehicle this is no longer the case.

Tesla has used this to their advantage to make its vehicle’s even safer by increasing the vehicle crumple zones. This results in far less injury to the occupants of the vehicles.

Active Safety Features

Tesla Active Safety Features
Tesla Active Safety Features

Tesla’s Autopilot technology also helps keep Tesla electric vehicles safe on the road. The system watches for situations where things become unsafe and acts on your behalf.

Many of these types of active safety features are in other vehicles, but Tesla safety features go a few steps further. They have the usual set of features like

However, more recently with the improvement in their camera system and AI development, they help stop accidents in a variety of situations. One example they recently mentioned was stopping the unintended use of the accelerator or brake. People more often than you could imagine using the wrong pedal. Tesla now stops those from causing accidents. Apparently 40 times a day!

They also use the data from their fleet in the safety feature development, which is one of the reasons for the new airbags and other features designed to improve your safety.

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