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Tesla Model 3 safety claim is Tesla's alone, NHTSA reiterates

As far as NHTSA's own word goes, it's one through five stars and that's it.

2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance
Nick Miotke/Roadshow

There's no doubt that Tesla's in the business of building some pretty safe cars -- the Model 3's five-star ratings across the board make that pretty clear. But even when it comes to statistics that the federal government doesn't usually publicize, the Model 3 is allegedly proving pretty safe.

In a blog post on its site, Tesla announced that the Model 3 in single-motor, long-range spec has the lowest "probability of injury" of any vehicle. The statistic, which comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, evidently shows that Model 3 occupants have a lower likelihood of being injured in multiple types of crashes (front, side and rollover) than any other vehicle. 

Over email, a Tesla spokeswoman did offer more explanation on the probability-of-injury statistic. NHTSA compiles raw injury data in a load of spreadsheets every year, and it computes the overall probability of injury, listing it as a Vehicle Safety Score in its published results. That's where Tesla pulled the data from, and you can check this year's results for yourself on

However, when it comes to claims that automakers make using data from government tests, the feds want to remind everyone that, by NHTSA's standards, there's no single top dog. In a statement posted to its website, NHTSA reiterated that its five-star rating is as good as it gets by its measure. "NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no 'safest' vehicle among those vehicles achieving five-star ratings," the statement concludes.

This test only covers the long-range Model 3 with a single rear motor, but Tesla expects other variants of the Model 3 to perform equally well in NHTSA's tests.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

As for Tesla's other two vehicles, the Model S and Model X, the news is almost as good. According to Tesla's chart, its larger vehicles sit right next to the Model 3 on the probability-of-injury chart. Tesla's image doesn't name any runners-up from other automakers, although some vehicles appear to be pretty close. 

The Tesla Model 3's crashworthiness should come as no surprise. Earlier this year, NHTSA gave the Model 3 five-star crash ratings across the board, including in every subcategory. It's not unheard of, but it puts the Model 3 in some pretty solid company, achieving the same ratings as consumer favorites like the Honda Civic and Subaru Impreza. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has yet to fully evaluate the Model 3, but odds are it will score well in those crash tests, as well.

If you like to geek out over vehicle engineering, do yourself a favor and read Tesla's blog post in full. The automaker rolls out a few examples of why its vehicle fares so well in crash tests, including side-by-side comparisons and crumple-zone renderings.

Originally published Oct. 8.
Update, Oct. 9:
Added NHTSA's statement and amended related text.

Tesla Model 3 Long Range: Here's our review of the exact specification of car tested in this story.

Tesla Model 3 Performance: Looking for something sprightlier? This should fit the bill.