But this doesn’t necessarily prove anything about Autopilot. There are many factors affecting the safety of Tesla vehicles. We’ve already mentioned automatic emergency braking as one factor that makes Tesla cars safer. But even without any of these technologies, we should expect Tesla cars to be safer than average just based on the kind of car Tesla sells—mostly big, luxury vehicles—and the kind of customer Tesla attracts as a result.
“To own a Tesla, mostly you have to be mature enough to amass enough wealth to buy one,” said Philip Koopman, an automotive safety expert at Carnegie Mellon. “You tend to get more middle-aged drivers who are in the safest demographic.”…
“Humans aren’t that bad at steering,” Koopman told Ars. “If you automate both speed and steering, drivers pay less attention.” That, Koopman argues, means that a driver-assistance system that “does things like lane-departure warnings might actually be safer than a full Autosteer system,” because it keeps drivers engaged with the driving task.