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are tesla safe

Are Tesla Vehicles Really Safe?

Tesla’s self-driving vehicles are a classic case of the automaker’s reach exceeding their grasp. Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems almost obsessed with realizing his dream of a futuristic world that seems ripped right out of the pages of a sci-fi pulp fiction magazine.

Trips to Mars. Vehicles that drive themselves. It’s the future that the 1980s promised we’d have by now, but is the technology safe enough for widespread public use? Are Tesla vehicles really safe to use with the auto pilot software engaged? Are Tesla’s safety claims exaggerated?

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Tesla Protest in China

These questions are being asked after Tesla endured a brutal month of bad press. In China, a man was driving a Model 3 car on the motorway that caused a multi-car crash in February. The man’s daughter Zhang Yazhou staged a dramatic protest during the Shanghai Auto Show that went viral. She stood on top of a Tesla vehicle at their booth and cried foul play. She alleged that the Tesla Model 3 her dad was driving experienced a brake failure that caused the crash.


Tesla revealed that vehicle data from the vehicle in question indicated that the vehicle was speeding and the brakes had been applied successfully more than 40 times in the half hour leading up to the crash. Zhang was quick to call the vehicle data fake and the Chinese government has put pressure on Tesla to respect Chinese consumers and meet the highest safety measures.

Tesla Crash in Texas

Earlier this month, two men were killed in a fiery Tesla car crash that took place in Texas. The vehicle was speeding and eventually crashed into a tree and burst into flames. After firefighters extinguished the blaze, they found one passenger in the back seat and one man in the front passenger seat. There was no one driving the Tesla vehicle.

Elon Musk took to Twitter to deny allegations that the vehicle’s autopilot feature was engaged at the time of the crash. He also pointed out that the owner did not purchase the Full Self-Driving feature.


This crash from Texas is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA has 24 ongoing investigations into crashes involving Tesla auto pilot software.

How Does Tesla AutoPilot Work?

The official disclaimer from Tesla’s website is that Tesla’s Autopilot feature is not designed to work independently, at least not yet. Autopilot is “intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time,” the website states.

According to the Tesla website, a vehicle will not engage auto pilot unless the vehicle’s sensors detect there is adequate weight in the drive’s seat, the seatbelt is engaged, and the driver is attentively watching the road ahead. The full self-driving software update has been created but Tesla has not made it available to the public yet. Right now, Tesla electric vehicles can accelerate, change lanes, brake and follow road signs, as well as enter and exit highway ramps.

Consumer Reports put the Tesla AutoPilot feature to the test in a new video. During a demonstration, a small weight was applied to the steering wheel and there was no live driver behind the wheel. The Tesla vehicle essentially drove itself and failed to engage any safety measures regarding a lack of a driver.

Tesla’s software is notoriously quirky. It’s important to note that the vehicle can also still drive itself if someone is asleep behind the wheel. Trusting your life to a vehicle that drives itself takes a great deal of faith in technology and the brand which brings that technology to the market.

Related: Detailed Review of the 2021 Tesla Model S

Are Tesla Vehicles Dangerous?

Tesla autopilot statistics are confusing to say the least. The findings would suggest that passengers are just as safe with the feature engaged as they are with it disengaged. Tesla publishes quarterly safety reports via their website. Here is what the electric vehicle automaker had to say about their most recent data statistics.

“In the 1st quarter, we registered one accident for every 4.19 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot but with our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 2.05 million miles driven. For those driving without Autopilot and without our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 978 thousand miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 484,000 miles.”

That sounds absolutely stellar, but critics are quick to point out some inconsistencies. Most Tesla vehicles use Auto Pilot on the highway where the chance of a fatal crash is reduced in comparison to city streets. The Full self-driving software is designed to allow auto pilot in urban settings, but it hasn’t been released yet. In essence, Tesla is comparing their limited highway driving statistics against the total number of driving accidents on both the city and highway.

Consumer Reports has been a thorn in Elon Musk’s side for a couple of years now. In 2020, Consumer Reports compared the driving assistance systems of all the leading automakers. Despite all the bragging that Tesla executives uphold about their Auto Pilot safety, the Cadillac Super Cruise function that’s featured on the Cadillac CT6 beat out the Tesla Autopilot by a wide margin.

Tesla’s claims that their electric self-driving vehicles are safer than anything else on the road is little more than a marketing scheme. At all times, a driver must mechanically operate a motor vehicle. The future of autonomous driving is attractive, and it is close to realization. However, it’s not worth risking your life. Please drive safely.

Detailed Review of the 2021 Tesla Model S

The 2021 Tesla Model S is an electrified sedan with blistering acceleration and autonomous driving technology. The Model S debuted in 2012 and just got its first real update. The new Model S has a simplified interior, some minor exterior alterations, and an available powertrain that’s even faster than the previous generation.

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What Are the Different Models for the 2021 Tesla Model S?

There are 3 model variants available for the 2021 Model S from Tesla. The base model is dubbed “Long Range” and it has an MSRP of $79,990. It has a driving range of 412 miles and a top speed of 155 miles per hour.

The new powertrain Model S option is called “Plaid” and has an MSRP of $119,000. That’s a big leap in price from the base model, but it only has a driving range of 390 miles. The hike in price is most likely attributed to the performance boost that the Plaid Model S receives. There is a third model called “Plaid Plus” and this is the real long-range model because it can go 520 miles before recharging. However, the price tag soars to $139,000. That’s the version that can go zero to 60 in under 2 seconds and run a 9.23-second quarter-mile, which begs the question – How fast is too fast?

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Exterior Style of the 2021 Tesla Model S

The 2021 Tesla Model S has a sleek sedan body style that reflects high attention to aerodynamic detail. The Model S sits low with a wide stance. It has an overall teardrop shape with door handles that fit flush against the paneling. All these features are meant to decrease the drag coefficient and boost the performance output of its electric powertrain. As Nissan engineer Hiroshi Tamura once said, “The body is technology.”

The 2021 Model S from Tesla now comes standard with a full glass panoramic rooftop. The Model S comes with either 19 or 21-inch wheels but looks amazing with either option. Color palettes are a bit limited, but the Model S doesn’t disappoint in black, white, blue, or red. There aren’t many build options that buyers can select at the time of purchase. A few different grille designs would have been a new direction for Tesla, but you have to accept what you get.

Performance Capabilities of the New Model S from Tesla

The new Model S electric powertrain can go from zero to 60 in just under 2 seconds. Both Plaid models can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour. That would make the new Model S the fastest electric vehicle on the market and maybe even the fastest accelerating vehicle period. Time will tell if those numbers bear out in real tests by real drivers.

The 2021 Model S with an updated powertrain can travel 520 miles before it needs to be recharged. By utilizing Tesla’s range of 20,000 supercharging stations nationwide, drivers can use fast charging to recoup up to 200 miles in just 15 minutes.

The Model S Long Range model has all-wheel drive and two electric motors. The Plaid models come with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and three electric motors. Otherwise, Tesla is rather tight-lipped about the underpinnings of the new Tesla Model S.

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Is the 2021 Tesla Model S a Safe Car to Drive?

The 2021 Model S has a floor-mounted battery bank that spans almost the entire length of the vehicle. This gives it a low center of gravity and increased protection against rollovers. Automatic emergency braking comes standard on all models.

The Model S has a high-tech system of cameras and radar devices. There are cameras that cover the front, rear, and sides providing 360 degrees of visibility. The front-facing radar has a range of 160 meters and 12 additional ultrasonic sensors that help to prevent collisions.

Self-Driving Features of the 2021 Tesla Model S

The cameras and sensors on the Model S enhance the vehicle’s safety but also assist with the AutoPilot functions of the electric sedan. In certain circumstances, the 2021 Tesla Model S can brake, steer, and accelerate without driver input.

The Model S can parallel park and park perpendicularly by itself. You can also use the key to summon your Model S. The vehicle will activate itself and drive toward you. While on the highway, the Tesla Model S can change lanes and use offramps, as well.

With that being said, there are bound to be some safety-related issues when it comes to all that technology doing the heavy lifting. For example, there’s no gear shifter on the 2021 Model S. Instead of manually choosing a direction, the Model S has an onboard AI that extrapolates the driver’s intentions from a complex algorithm of choices. The vehicle selects a gear for you.

That could become problematic when you’re stuck in an odd traffic situation that the AI can’t make heads or tails of. You can override this system by manually deactivating it through the touchscreen. However, that involves scrolling and tapping your way through a menu of subsystems just to get this electric sedan moving. Not to mention, if there was a software or electrical problem involved, the driver would essentially be useless in operating the vehicle.

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New Interior of the Tesla Model S

In keeping with the design language of other Tesla vehicles, the 2021 Model S now sports a minimalist interior. Tesla engineers are so adept at reducing clutter inside the cabin that it has become a sort of philosophy for them. The steering wheel has been chopped in half. It now has a U-shaped design with no stalks for turn signaling or activating wipers. This is bound to play tricks on drivers’ muscle memory as they instinctively flick their fingers to indicate a change of lanes. This also takes out a simple and straightforward mechanical process for signaling a lane change.

Steering Wheel

The new Model S just has illuminated arrows on one side of the flat steering surface. Pudgy fingers beware. The U-shaped steering wheel is most often seen on drag racing cars that don’t need to ever turn. However, the 2021 Model S will require a nimbler steering column and it will be interesting to see actual reviews from drivers in the near future. Tesla’s website promotes the new steering wheel design as a way to focus on driving. Yet, removing features that have been on steering wheels for decades hardly seems like the ideal way to keep drivers focused on the road ahead.


As you pan your vision to the right, you’ll notice that the dashboard has been stripped of adornments. The only thing left is the touchscreen interface and a digital instrument cluster.  The interior has a 17-inch cinematic display that boasts a 2200×1300 screen resolution. It tilts left and right to favor either the driver or passenger. Previous Model S electric sedans had a touchscreen display with a vertical orientation, but the new Model S has turned the screen on its side.

Back Seat

The rear bench has a screen where older model sedans used to house their air conditioning vents, down low in the center stack. Thankfully, there are still a few cupholders. The rear bench has wireless device charging, as well. The front row can charge 2 devices via Bluetooth, wireless, or USB-C chargers. You can even fast-charge a laptop or tablet at the expense of your vehicle’s overall electric power output.


The 2021 Model S comes with a 960-watt sound system. It has noise-canceling technology that provides high-quality audio through its 22 speakers. There have always been minor updates and improvements to the software of the Tesla Model S, but the 2021 Model S finally has a full overhaul. It has updated software for the touchscreen. It’s a bit more powerful than the previous generation. It has a wireless controller for video games and a faster processing speed for the graphics card. It can now support 10 teraflops of data. That’s a trillion floating-point operations per second. This will put the Model S on par with the PlayStation 5 and the cabin can now double as a gaming lounge for both the front and rear passengers.

Cargo Space

Cargo space is a big plus for the 2021 Tesla Model S. Since it does not have an internal combustion engine (ICE) you can use the front and rear of the vehicle for storage. The rear bench folds flat to open up the cabin for 28 cubic feet of cargo space.

Final Thoughts on the 2021 Tesla Model S

Just when competing automakers were starting to catch up to the wave of performance electric vehicles, Tesla set the bar even higher with the new Model S. It’s set to be the fastest sedan on the market with speeds that seem to warp reality. Its 520-mile driving range will also set the record for electric range.

Interestingly, the name “Plaid” is a reference to the 1987 comedy Spaceballs. In the movie, Darth Helmet’s spaceship went so fast that the color streaks went plaid. As you may recall, Tesla also has a Ludicrous mode which is another reference to “ludicrous speed” from that same Spaceballs movie.

Speed comes at a price though. The top of the range 2021 Model S Plaid + will cost more than some supercars. With a stripped-down interior, you’re not paying for plush creature comforts. Part of the price is raked across Tesla’s brand popularity and high-tech amenities like console gaming and autonomous driving.

Just like the Cybertruck, people will either love or hate the u-shaped steering wheel. Once again, Tesla engineers seek to jar the automotive industry out of well-established conventions just to prove a point. The flat-bottomed steering column seems ripped right out of a sci-fi movie or an 80s video game arcade. Will drivers lament over the absence of their beloved turn signal or will they be going too fast to even notice?