A horrific motor vehicle accident that easily could have been an even greater tragedy was mitigated by the car’s safety features. Five German students in a Tesla Model S were able to get out of the car and walk away, as first reported in German newspaper Merkur. Three of the five were airlifted and the other two went to a hospital by ambulance, but none had life-threatening injuries.
The accident is still under investigation, but the 18-year-old driver was reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed in her father’s Tesla when she lost control on a left turn and went off the road. The car flew 82 feet in the air, crashed and rolled at least once in a field.
The Tesla Model S has eight airbags, but two other features are getting a lot of credit for protecting the students. Because there is no engine in the front of the car, the front storage area, also referred to as a “frunk,” serves as a huge crumple zone to protect the car’s passengers. The car’s “skateboard” chassis moreover has multiple crumple zones that serve to dissipate the energy of a crash. The lack of an engine in front of the car also means there is no heavy mass to potentially crash into the cabin.
Reactions around the world included expressions of gratitude and relief that the teenagers, though injured, all survived. There was also intense interest in how the Tesla Model S protected its passengers. Even Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk knew about the accident and @elonmusk tweeted, “Thank goodness all are ok.”