Is the Model S safe?

Is the Model S safe?

Hi everyone,

So later today I am going to be trying out the Model S for the first time, and am very excited. However there is something I want addressed, before I feel like I can totally commit to the car. How safe is it? I've checked various lists for the safest sedan, ect. and have not had a single source list this car on that list. I'm not sure if its because the car/brand is still so new to people, or if its just not that safe of a car..

Can anyone help elaborate on this and give me a good idea of the overall safety of this car?

Because if I can feel comfortable with that, I'm totally in!


ChristianG | 21. Juli 2013

they told us that they passed all the american Crash tests very good, I havn't seen any Report to proof this thou. So it seems to be pretty safe, at least fro the drivers row. There are doubts that the 2nd row is as safe as the headrests are really low and tall People will hit the head on the Roof but nobdoy reall knows.

there have been accidents with the model S already and None of the Drivers I heard of had any serious injoury some at least one Driver on another car the Model S had a colision with is dead.

Captain_Zap | 21. Juli 2013

If you watch the video of Elon and Jerome talking at Teslive you will learn that they over-engineered all the safety aspects. It was one of their foremost priorities when building the car from the ground up.

They passed the US Federal Safety crash tests with superior results. The car has not yet been selected for "Star" rating tests because the car is not produced in high volumes yet.

On this page you can scroll down to the video that shows an image of Elon and hear what they have to say about safety. You'll have to fast forward it quite a ways to get to the talk, but all of the video is worth watching!

herkimer | 21. Juli 2013

Model S is likely the safest car made today.

Tesla-David | 21. Juli 2013

@Imherkimer. Ditto. I feel safer in this car than any car that I have ever owned or driven. Several head on collisions in Model S's have been reported on in this Forum, and the drivers in both accidents walked away unscathed. Not so much for two unfortunate souls in a Honda who collided with MS. Elon stated that they paid a lot of attention to making the MS as safe as possible, and I for one think they succeeded beyond their expectations.

ir | 21. Juli 2013

As those high-speed head-on crashes illustrate, the Model S is pretty darn safe. That being said, the aluminum body also means the car tends to be hard to repair and Tesla is still having trouble making replacement parts as others who had less catastrophic encounters have indicated.

Some have debated safety of the +2 jump seats. has a nice search you can lookup these topics.

lph | 21. Juli 2013

As a structural designer the tesla MS looks to me to be the best engineered car for safety. For instance the front crumple zone is way bigger than any car I have seen and there is a massive battery pack which not only gives the car mass but has the strongest floor you will ever see with a 1/4" steel plate at the bottom (also almost bomb proof IMO). This gives the car an ideal of having large crumple zones with an extremely stiff passenger zone.
Also heard that the roof is exceptionally strong, so a rollover (however unlikely because of its exceptionally low center of mass) in this car should also be more survivable.
I know of a nasty accident involving a MS and a Honda Accord head on. It killed both passengers in the Honda but the person in the MS was able to step out of his car on his own.

Tâm | 21. Juli 2013


Note the chassis is aluminum: You can easily bend and damage the hood easily with your bare hands but Yes it is structurally sound and it is SAFE. The cabin protects you. Don't take my words for it. Take it from laboratory tests and real life experience.

Aleksandyr had reservations about driving his Tesla Model S for Memorial Day Vacation for fear of waiting in line at Supercharger stations.

skymaster cautioned him to consider his decision because "There is no car as safe as a Tesla Model S. You can not put a price on safety. "

Guess what? He took his whole family in Tesla Model S for Memorial Day Vacation and everything worked out fine!

1) Safety proven in the Laboratory:

a) Tesla Model S earned a five-star safety rating (maximum NHTSA rating.)

b) "The Model S is so structurally sound, that the NHTSA’s roof crush resistance testing machine actually broke when they tried to test the Model S under it.

The Model S’s roof crush resistance is over twice the requirement by the NHTSA."

2) Safety proven in real life:

a) 04/02/2013:

Look at the Honda Accord's front. It's practically disintegrated and materials from the front were PUSHED into the cabin. The cabin could not protect its occupants.

The Tesla Model S hit the Accord Head-on. This is the worst kind because the impact not absorb evenly on a whole front but all the force was concentrated on 1/4 of the front. It then hit the guard rail with a great force that bent the metal, tilted the wooden post and uprooted the white post, kicked off the yellow sand onto the road,

but the Tesla front cushioned the impact and did not damage the integrity of the cabin. It's safe to be inside a Tesla's cabin. Its driver walked away with minor injuries.

You can already figured out but if you want to confirm the fate of 2 occupants of the Honda Accord, watch the Youtube below:

b) 05/26/2013:

BMW M5 ran the stop sign and clipped the Tesla Model S left front.

The force of the impact was so hard that airbags were automatically deployed in the Model S.

Model S driver, his wife and his friend couple suffered absolutely no injuries and they walked off the accident alive and testified in TESLIVE.

The Model S suffered some damage at the front cone, right headlight/fender and structurally sound.

Just like the last accident with Honda Accord, this time, the BMW M5 were also completely destroyed.

DJung | 21. Juli 2013

I have heard from various sources that the machine used to crush the car broke from the very strong structure of the vehicle. From the incidents that have been reported, the MS is built like a tank!

JPPTM | 21. Juli 2013

Caution...the NHTSA has not yet done the testing on the Model S. George B said (@ Teslive factory party) that they just got delivery of their 2 test cars. That said, Tesla had to do private 3rd party crash testing in order to be able to sell the cars in the USA, and, indeed, they met or exceeded both requirements and expectations.

SamO | 21. Juli 2013


That should be a slideshow to anyone thinking of getting a Honda or BMW. The Tesla has NONE of the limitations of an ICE car. I feel sorry like when a Suburban hits a VW bug. It's not a fair fight in Tesla's direction.

With great power comes great(er) responsibility.

Brian H | 21. Juli 2013

The MS broke the crush test machine.

Brian H | 21. Juli 2013

Oops, cross-posted, sorry.

Elon has also claimed the jumpseats are the safest place in the car. He regularly bets his 5 kids' lives on it. | 21. Juli 2013

Just be a little careful when looking at these examples.

The Honda was an older car and part of the destruction was probably age related and (if the estimates of the car's age are correct) a current model Honda would likely have faired much better.

The BMW damage looks to be a result of it going out of control and flipping over and rolling.

Having said that, the Tesla performance looks very good.


SamO | 21. Juli 2013


Actually the MS was at a 4 way stop and the BMW blew through. The MS clipped the right side of the BMW and ripped the right rear wheel off the car, which then flipped the car.

M.S. and occupants look nearly unscathed.

theappdeveloper | 21. Juli 2013

Thanks for all the great responses everyone! It's been really helpful :)

Just finished test driving the Model S, and all I can say is WOW. How have I been living without this car?

I also happened to talk with the sales team about the safety while I was there, and asked them personally why it wasn't yet rated/listed on lists for the safest car. They told me that they've actually heard from the CEO themselves that the car has already very recently achieved a 5/5 on EVERY category of the national highway traffic safety administration tests, and that the only reason it hasn't yet been made official was due to something with insurance or some sort, couldn't quite figure that part out.. But that the main point being it did get a 5/5 on every test they did, and there is only one other car on the market that has gotten that same rating. So thats very positive!

I really hope they publish the results soon, as Tesla says they will.

Looking forward to buying this beauty :)


Brian H | 21. Juli 2013

Too bad. Elon was aiming for 6/5 in every category.

ian | 21. Juli 2013

The explanation I got at the Tech talk here in Seattle is that the NHTSA buys cars annonymously so that manufacturers can't give them "ringers" and that they simply hadn't tested it yet.

I've heard Elon say, on a number of occasions, that the Model S was designed to achieve a 5 star rating in every category.


skymaster | 21. Juli 2013

The Tesla Model S is the safest car in production. There is "triple" the normal crumple zone up front with no engine. Also, look at the size of the "B" pillar. This car is designed for impact.

It is simple. If you want your loved ones to be in the safest car in the world, buy a Tesla Model S!!!

Jamon | 21. Juli 2013

Quick safety question: I know that in an accident the battery is designed to shut down to prevent it from catching fire. I'm curious if there is also a feature to automatically unlock (auto-present) the door handles after an accident so that first responders can get in to the car if the passengers are unconscious. Does anybody know about this?

Tâm | 21. Juli 2013


There are 2 batteries. The propulsion battery shuts down automatically in an accident, but the accessories 12 volt battery is still active for the functions you mentioned. Look back at the picture, the headlight, instrument display were still on after airbags were deployed.

Even if there's a complete shutdown, first responders are trained to break glasses to get unconscious occupants out.

The glasses are designed to be easily shattered: grab a rock or pay 10 dollars for personal tool:

HenryT2 | 21. Juli 2013

One caveat, our European friends say that the back seats would likely not pass their tests because of the headrests. I believe the tests in the US are not terribly stringent on the back seat passengers.

If you have cause to transport adults or grown teens in the back seat often, the Tesla might not be the SAFEST car (for kids, it should be one of the best). That isn't to say that it'll be much worse than other cars, it's just an unknown factor.

Brian H | 22. Juli 2013

In practice, neck injuries and fatalities are more common with adjustable headrests -- because people don't adjust them. Or drivers pop them out for visibility. Fixed aren't perfect, just less subject to human misuse.

tobi_ger | 22. Juli 2013

I understand that there are studies to show that, but then it's an issue with educating people about correct adjustment. If drivers pull them out for visibility completely, than they should consider a different seat position maybe, if possible.
Being 6"3' tall I'd just prefer to have the adjustment being an option than having my head restraint's top edge being at my neck rather my neck, that's all I'm saying.

tobi_ger | 22. Juli 2013

*being at my head rather my neck

negarholger | 22. Juli 2013

@HenryT2 - no backseat evaluation in tests in Europe. There is a long thread about it...

Mark K | 22. Juli 2013

Bought my wife a Model S precisely for this reason. No other choice was engineered with as much safety as this car.

One little known science tidbit:

In a head-on crash, the 3X longer front crumple zone improves safety for BOTH cars.

That's because the crumple zone extends the deceleration distance to absorb energy from the two colliding objects.

The Tesla Model S not only secures its own occupants, it reduces harm to others as well.

A double win.

Safety is the undersold benefit of this machine. As it sinks in from more accident data, a new wave of buyers will flock to this car.

theappdeveloper | 22. Juli 2013

I would love to keep this a somewhat active thread, as I definitely think its an important discussion to have. If people who own the car can post there experiences with there cars here that relate to safety, I think that'll be helpful for all!

Thanks everyone for all the helpful responses, its great to know that I'll be buying access to such a great and helpful community as well as a great car.

Cheers everyone, I hope to start helping others soon too!

darrelbollinger | 22. Juli 2013

What about driving through water? Any chance Battery will short out.

napatesla | 22. Juli 2013

It is refreshing to hear that safety is important for Tesla considering most people are forgoing the BMW and Mercedes that has all the safety features we have grown used to. My main complaint is the lack of adjustable headrests in the rear of the car. Everything else is perfection or close to. How can a crash test not reveal severe injuries to those in the backseat that aren't children. I am an average guy and the lower part of my neck hits the top of the head rest. What is even more interesting is that the Tesla website shows interior shots with adjustable rear headrests. How do I order this option? Last week I was on the 280 and noticed a Tesla with adjustable headrests, but also noticed Prototype discretely placed on the drivers side door (lower section). Does anyone know when the rear seats will receive proper head rests? Thank you!

Captain_Zap | 22. Juli 2013

There is plenty of threads about driving through water here by searching

There is also some very personal experiences in the forums at Tesla Motors Club as the result of unexpected flooding in Florida. It's worth a look. They get into much more detail than you will find here.

Brian H | 22. Juli 2013

The adjustable headrests are old pix, not current.