Tesla Not So “Safe,” According to Uncle

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Well, well.

The Tesla Model S fell short of earning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award.

For a vehicle to qualify for the Top Safety Pick award, IIHS said it must earn “good” ratings in all five crashworthiness tests – small overlap front, moderated overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats – and come with a front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating.

The “+” is awarded to vehicles that meet all the above criteria and come with “good” or “acceptable” headlights.

Ratings for crashworthiness and headlights are good, acceptable, marginal and poor.

IIHS said the Model S “ran into problems in the test when the safety belt allowed the dummy’s torso to move too far forward. That allowed the dummy’s head to hit the steering wheel hard through the airbag.”


IIHS also noted the 2017 Model S isn’t available with anything other than poor-rated headlights. The automaker told IIHS that it is working with its supplier to improve the headlights. IIHS will evaluate the new ones when they are available.

One Model S variant in particular, the high-performance P100D, was also dinged for its roof strength. The P100D has the same roof structure as other Model S variants, IIHS said, but noted that because the car has a larger, and heavier, battery it earned only an acceptable rating for that test.


Two other green vehicles, the Toyota Prius Prime and Chevrolet Volt, earned the Top Safety Pick+ designation for crash test and crash avoidance performance, the organization said.

IIHS plans to test the latest EV to enter the market, the Chevrolet Bolt, once it becomes widely available this year.


  1. Oopsie! Looks like a Tesla just killed a couple lawyers!


    Interesting quotes:

    “Before I could get out of my truck the car exploded,” Finnell said. “The parts of the car, engine and everything went up in the air. It was the most horrifying thing that I had ever seen.”

    The owner of the Tesla, McCarthy, was the founder and CEO of the Indianapolis company that developed Case Pacer case management software for attorneys.

    Casey Speckman worked for Case Pacer as a sales representative.

    Her father said she worked hard to graduate from Indiana University with high marks in 2007. She put herself through Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island and graduated in 2014.

    • That was one nasty wreck….and to think Con-gress gave new EV’s a bye on safety…..shit. That’s pure greed and low morals to put it mildly. Oh, but then I was speaking of Con-gress. I’ve been privy by paying attention to what those critters report making from various sources over the years. 5 grand can get you nearly anything if that amount goes to the right people(each, they’re not THAT cheap). That’s just a matter often of looking to see who’s on various committees and their connections with banks and Wall Street and gummint bureaucrats.

      • Interesting how they have created a de facto means of totally controlling virtually all markets now, via such things as “safety standards”- which can be waived at-will for favored sons; or “environmental” BS, which can also be waived when desired. So basically, Uncle gets to destroy all competitors and promote the favored sons.

        Between things like that, and subsidies and tax credits and “carbon credits”, etc. any vestiges of free market capitalism are long gone- and yet the country is full of these idiots who decry “the evils of capitalism”, but they don’t even realize that they’ve never even seen capitalism practiced in their lifetime; and that the things they are complaining about are really the result of the collectivist nonsense that they love so much being implemented in practice, while still being refered to as “capitalism”.

  2. I don’t know the roots of IIHS, is it gov’t run?

    If we have independent organizations that will do crash testing, safety testing, reliability testing. What do we need gov’t regulations for? If you have cars that clearly stand above the rest, the rest will begin to follow.

    • IIHS is funded by the insurance companies, so their data is real-world.

      NHTSA is the government’s version…..and it’s standards are much more lax- i.e. the cars are crashed at lower speeds, etc. It’s like the NHTSA was set up to favor the car manufacturers. Much easier to earn a good rating with them than it is with IIHS.

      Yet another example of taxpayer funds being used to do something wasteful by government, while the free-market does a much better job at no expense to the taxpayer.

      • The Insurance Institute for Higher Surcharges is indeed funded by the insurance companies and their output is generally Naderite and Claybrookian nonsense. They don nothing but push for lower speed limits and building better idiots.

        Decent information can be gathered from their crash tests if you know something about physics, engineering, materials, and mechanics, etc. But you have to know these things otherwise you’ll fall for some their well constructed tests designed to generate particular responses from the public. Those responses becoming the support for new regulations.

        • True, Brent- Like all such “institutes”, (or most people in general) they just want to use the state to impose controls on us which benefit their own.

          But they do do a more realistic crash test than Uncle- as is to be expected, because those who fund them have a financial stake in the matter.

          IIRC, they had a lot to do with the push for mandatory seatbelt laws, didn’t they?

          • More severe, not necessarily more realistic. IIHS says their severe offset crashes and the like are more realistic but they don’t go a step further where the cars glance off each other, which is even more realistic.

            • The big thing is though, Brent, the speed at which they are crashed (25-35MPH at NHTSA vs. 40-55MPH at IIHS), and the level of detail they measure- i.e. NHTSA in many instances is only concerned with “survivability” (And most cars crashed at 25MPH will ace that!) whereas IIHS monitors such things as passenger compartment deformation and intrusion, and your likelihood of having severe leg damage in a crash, etc.

              NHTSA is basically worthless (as are pretty much all gov’t agencies) while IIHS does provide some meaningful data, IMO. Passenger compartment integrity and intrusion are pretty basic (and pretty important) details when speaking of crash worthiness (And really only relevant at speeds at real world speeds).

              • IIHS tests aren’t worthless but one shouldn’t fall for what IIHS uses to support them. It’s not the tests themselves I fault it’s how the IIHS uses them to demand more government intrusion.

                You have to remember something about government agencies and that is they are frozen at the time of their creation. Whatever things were like the day they were created that’s how their mentality is forever. It’s why the unemployment offices have a mentality fit for the conditions of the 1930s, same with social security. Why medicare is stuck in the 1960s.

                There is also, what are real world speeds? Is it to be assumed there is no braking? For real world test I could create one for cars hitting the old steel light poles throughout Chicago. These things are thick steel planted deep into the ground with concrete. They will slice a car in two and show no damage beside some of the surface rust being scraped off. With the paint transfer from the car the pole might be better off after being hit.

                What is real world testing is always arbitrary in the engineering world. There are cases for this or that. They are picked based on judgment and opinion or in the case of the IIHS their agendas as well.

                • No argument with any of that Brent. (Except, I think you meant to start out saying NHTSA instead of IIHS).

                  Definitely though- there’s a world of difference between what even IIHS concludes, and what they do with that info. Pretty much every organization in our society, be it “public” or private, wants to use the power of the state to limit/control us and our choices/behavior.

                  And yes, “real world” can never be approximated. There are just too many variables, and it would be impossible to consider/reproduce them all.

                  I’ll bet you would feel better though, if you have a daughter, if she were driving/riding in a car which did not suffer major penetration when it crashed into something of equal or greater mass than itself at 50MPH, as opposed to one in which the front wheel is known to intrude 18″ into the footwell; or one in which the dash gets shoved to the rear; or the roof crumbles, etc.

                  I used to spend a lot of time in junkyards. I’ve personally seen the results of thousands of vehicles which were hit head-on, or T-boned, or bent around a pole; all at significant speeds. The differences in how the structures of various vehicles hold up can run the spectrum.

                  And it’s amazing how common severe accidents are. The sheer number of trainwrecked cars at just ONE Copart salvage auction location in one week, is amazing….times that by a few hundred locations, and add in other companies, like IAAi, etc. and it’s just mind blowing.

                  It’s something we should all give thought to. It can happen in the blink of an eye, through no fault of our own, and have life-changing or life-ending consequences.

                  • I guess we all want to protect our daughters against penetration but that’s a hard row to hoe. Of course they’re not all accidents but it could happen.

                    I used to truck with some sense of confidence and I generally carried a couple beers for an emergency. Then I got run over from behind by another big rig sitting at the end of the line in road construction. That was my second ride to the ER same hospital. 6 months later on a blind RR crossing the lights failed and guess who got to see the Northern Pacific up close and personal. I walked away from that one. Actually, it didn’t get into the coolers on the tractor and after the DPS left I drove away….and finished the day without some mandatory lights and similar stuff. But it sure got me to thinking I had a target on my back.

                    • 8, I don’t think even IIHS tests for penetration in the back seat, yet.

                      And I’m sure hiding the salami at a border crossing could cost ya!

                      If ya live in an inspection state, they’ll get ya iffin yer rubber is too thin, too! So always make sure your rubber is intact, just in case there’s penetration.

                  • I wrote it the way I wanted it. Neithers’ tests are worthless but one has to understand what they are.

                    Everything comes at a cost. What are you willing to pay for a car that passes whatever the IIHS has dreamed up most recently?

                    Then there are the tradeoffs.
                    I like cars I can see a lot out of, not like modern ‘safe’ cars. Sure good for the tests but are they really safe?

                    I would rather not crash in the first place in a car that isn’t so up-armored than crash with no injury in one that is.

                    • Yep. I certainly don’t buy into IIHS’s whole “package” of “safety” either. I just think that having a cabin which won’t crumble around you (at least in right side up impacts) is a key element to safety.

                      I like knowing that one car likely will not crumple in a typical 35MPH impact and break my ankles or femur.

                      I mean, if you can pick between two similar cars, and one folds and has significant penetration which is liable to break your bones, vs. the other which will allow you to walk away, why not pick the sturdier one?

                      I like to swee how they do in head banging, too. Bash your head into a pillar at even moderate speed, and all bets are off.

                      So I consider IIHS at least a provider of useful info in those reagrds- whereas NHTSA is pretty much a watered-down, less specific wannabe.

                      But yeah….overall, especially today, it’s all pretty stupid, what with these cars with the thick pillars and high belt-lines which I’d imagine practically necessitate a periscope to allow a decent view; and the stupid touch-screens, which force drivers to take their eyes off of the road…..it’s like they’ve taken 8 steps backwards as far as safety is concerned.

                      And it’s all pretty irrelevant to me, personally, anyway- as I drive an Excursion and a long-bed extended cab 4×4 F250- which each weigh c. 8,000 lbs. and offer unparalleled visibility.

                      Funny thing: Years ago, my best friend bought a Jeep Cherokee- and his brother bought a Bronco II (remember those? Uhhgg..)- both noted by IIHS (and me, just by observation) as having a propensity to flip, and lots of intrusion.

                      Both my friend and his brother ended up getting hit in those vehicles, and they both rolled, and indeed got crumpled pretty good.

                      The brother would have been killed but for the fact that he was not wearing a seatbelt abd got tossed into the rear when it flipped- ’cause the roof over the driver’s position was crushed down to the belt-line.

                      Excursions have weak roofs. I’m not too concerned about that though. Can’t worry about everything.

                    • Industry alone improved automobile safety considerably over its first six decades. When the government took over there was stagnation but when advancement returned it returned in the way we know today.

                      Where thick A pillars block visibility. Where people can’t see out to back up. Where crash standards are demanded without consideration to what happens to the car as a whole.

                      But that’s the nature of politics. For all I know this condition suits the IIHS just fine. They certainly don’t seem to complain about it.

                    • I totally agree, Brent.

                      And what else could we expect from IIHS? -An organization which represents an industry which is reliant upon fascism for it’s very existence- so of course they’re not going to bite the hand which feeds them, but instead will play the game which perpetuates that fascism, and push for whatever will economically benefit their clients, which is almost always detrimental to our freedom.

                • The TxDOT people must have got stoned in Austin and decided the new barriers between divided roadways needed to be “green” or “easy”, something along those lines. They began putting them up a decade ago. Galvanized Steel H beams about 40″ high, maybe 4″X4″ OD and maybe a quarter inch thick in the beefiest part with 3 cables running through each one. One maybe close to 40 inches another mid way down and another a foot off the ground…..probably the bottom made to keep go carts from careening across the median and taking out big rigs coming the other way.

                  Seems like when they first went in I saw a small car that had swiped the stuff at what appeared to be low speed and it didn’t go through.

                  Whatever their thought on this, isn’t wasn’t from living in my world for sure. Every day I see cars and pickups whiz through this stuff like it’s dental floss. Of course it does enough more damage to the vehicle to mostly ruin them except for pickups with RanchHand front ends that simply laugh going through.

                  Oh, I get it. Yes, it’s made to hopefully flatten a tire or two on big rigs so they have a reminded of cooking through it.

                  The big fences 6 feet apart down around Houston make some sense but out here on the prairie where 100 mph is just a good cruising speed it’s just another thing to avoid should you veer off the road.

                  Of course dogs and deer are sometimes slowed down enough in places where normally the wind would be the only thing that slowed them so they seem to be the victims of traffic more post divider bullshit.

                  Yep, those traffic engineers are pure geniuses I tells ya. They could have hired Mexicans and given them green cards to stand out there at night with lanterns like in Mexico and saved most of the money over a ten year period. So little of it exists any one day it’s hard to see the point of replacing it for sure.

                  But since TxDOT doesn’t really do anything except watch the contractors perform whatever needs to be done I guess it’s job security of a lot of people, mostly the tax assessors.

                  I had an idea I once submitted and that was buying another half ROW and build another 3 lanes for trucks and commercial traffic to run by itself with a concrete barrier between that and the rest of the other 4 lanes. Car and pickups could duke it out just like now only the truckers could simply be there 24 hrs a day since they are anyway for emergency response with their mandated fire extinguishers and road flares. Truckers could actually save people’s lives with minimal emergency items aboard and get paid for aid on a per basis. Oh hell, everybody’s so broke now it would probably come down to fights to save a life, sorta like the old firefighters…..never mind.

      • Forgot, the NHTSA was set up to take the standards away from SAE and other private groups. It was a government take over. It was set up by copying SAE standards and then the government claimed it had granted americans safer automobiles. So it was just a political take over. Automakers of course then had to play more in the political arena which means more money for politicians, salaries for government employees, and so on.


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