Tesla Model 3 scores 5-star safety rating from NHTSA

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Tesla Model 3Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Tesla Model 3 sedan a five-star overall safety rating, the highest score the agency can give.
  • The Model 3 received a five-star rating in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover categories, and some of its driver assistance features - like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, crash imminent braking, and dynamic brake support - met the agency's performance tests.
  • Tesla's prior two vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, also received five-star safety ratings from the NHTSA.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Tesla Model 3 sedan a five-star overall safety rating, the highest score the agency can give.

The Model 3 received a five-star rating in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover categories, and some of its driver assistance features - like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, crash imminent braking, and dynamic brake support - met the agency's performance tests.

Tesla's prior two vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, also received five-star safety ratings from the NHTSA.

Some of the Model 3's safety features have also been evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which gave the vehicle a "superior" rating in the "front crash prevention" category ("superior" is the highest rating in that category) and an "acceptable" rating for its headlights ("acceptable" is the second-highest rating in that category), and found its automatic braking system to be overly cautious. The organization has not yet rated the safety of the vehicle's other features, like its sides, roof, and seats.

The Model 3 is Tesla's first mass-market vehicle, though the company has not yet sold its $35,000 base priced version. While the vehicle has been praised by reviewers, it has also been subject to production delays and reports of inconsistent quality.

Tesla's semi-autonomous driver assistance feature, Autopilot, has come under scrutiny from the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency is investigating multiple crashes involving the feature, which Tesla has said makes its vehicles safer.

Tesla has pointed to statistics that link Autopilot with lower accident and fatality rates and said it has made clear to customers that they must be alert when using the system. Critics say Tesla's favorite statistics don't isolate Autopilot's effect on safety and argue that, despite Tesla's warnings, the system breeds complacency in drivers who eventually place too much faith in it.

Have a Tesla news tip? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com.

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