18 Day Old Model S Wrecked

18 Day Old Model S Wrecked

I posted this on TMC but wanted to share my experience with everyone here as well about the safety of the Model S.

Yesterday I was driving home alone when a large SUV cut across 6 lanes of traffic and broadsided me. I never even saw her coming. The driver slammed into me with so much force that the Tesla's aigbags instantly deployed and pushed me head-on into a concrete light pole which then crashed down on top of my car. The SUV actually did a 180 and ended up facing the opposite direction she was going. I was even told by one witness that my car look like it even became airborne for a split second which is crazy considering the weight of the Model S. Alerts immediately started to be displayed on the console. I was not able to open the driver side door so I had to crawl out the passenger side. I walked away with only a broken hand which I was told was caused by the airbag. The driver of the other vehicle was unhurt. We were both very lucky.

I have to say that the Model S couldn't have performed better. Even though this was the first major accident I have ever been involved in I felt very well protected. From what I can remember, the cabin was not caved in very much. I am very sad this happened but am actually glad I was in my new Model S; I'm not sure how bad the accident would have been if I was driving another car. 20 minutes after the crash Tesla was calling my cell phone asking if I was okay and that they saw I was in an accident. I couldn't answer the call at that time since I was still talking to the police officers and fireman on scene. I was told by the firemen and my insurance agent that I was very lucky to be driving in the Tesla as it is truly the safest cars on the road. Sad about our 2 week old car but it probably saved me from more injuries.

I'm not sure yet what the status of the car is yet but will post it as soon as I find out.

Here are a few low quality pictures of the accident. They were taken by some of my family members shortly after the accident. I'll be able to get the high resolution images soon if anyone is really interested.

Atlantian | 18/10/2013

Not sure why the images aren't showing up so here is a link to the TCM post with pictures:

GDH | 18/10/2013

Glad you are ok but fix the pics so we can see!

Atlantian | 18/10/2013

Lets try this again...

church70 | 18/10/2013

WOW Glad you are ok sry for your car

Captain_Zap | 18/10/2013

Amazing. I hope your hand heals quickly. Thanks for sharing.

DC@Tesla | 18/10/2013

That concrete pole landing right over the driver's head is indeed terrifying. The Tesla really did protect you. Poor car though. :(

jbunn | 18/10/2013

I'm glad you were in your Tesla, although it's sad to see a gorgeous car like that take one for the team.

I hope the idiot that hits you gets slapped by his insurance company.

Mark K | 18/10/2013

Glad you're OK - this story reminds me of a hard reality:

I've always believed that one important ingredient in auto safety is the skill and vigilance of the driver. If you are pretty good at that, you tend get a little overconfident that driving is relatively safe.

It isn't.

A car at high speed is an inherently dangerous context. Even if you do everything perfectly, there are times where something completely outside your control, as you experienced here, can come out of the blue to kill you.

At those moments, no training, no skill, and no presence of mind will save you. The only thing that can save your life is the intelligence and passion of the people who built your car.

If you get to know the people who are Tesla, you come to understand that they are special. They are not only very, very smart; they truly care. That is rarer than most people realize.

For reasons that far transcend money, they put their all into creating the safest car in the world. And it is.

For me, that is at the top of the list of many reasons why I bought two of them, and why I chose it to guard over my wife and kids.

bradslee | 18/10/2013

Though I am sorry for your brand new MS and for your broken hand, I am glad to learn that you had been otherwise impressively protected by the safest car in the world. Wish you will soon recover and get your damaged MS restored like new again. You are a living proof of how MS is the safest car in the world. Thank you for letting the fellow MS owners know that.

Brian H | 19/10/2013

Heh, heh. The way you worded it, it reads like the airbags pushed you into the concrete pole! It was hard to visualize ...

Atlantian | 19/10/2013

No, sorry about the confusion. The car that hit me did all the pushing. I should have phrased that a bit differently.

Rheumboy | 19/10/2013

Can you remember where your hand position was that was fractured? 9-3, 10-2, etc? And where exactly which bone was fractured?

eddiemoy | 19/10/2013

this just shows how crazy over engineered the car is. i'm glad you are ok and hope you a speedy recovery on the hand.

glad i'm driving a tesla.

GDH | 19/10/2013

That'll buff out, how much do you want for it.

Brian H | 19/10/2013

The MS: the only SUV-proof sedan!

robby81 | 19/10/2013

There's a distinct lack of any fire in these pics. Just saying. In case the WSJ is reading this.

NomoDinos | 19/10/2013

Atlantian - Wow, glad you came out nearly unscathed. That SUV driver was lucky no one was more seriously injured. Keep us updated on your *new* new car, maybe take the opportunity to upgrade ;)

Brian - I think they should have sUV-PF ratings on Teslas (SUV-protection factors)

Me | 19/10/2013

Wow, glad you are safe. Are you going to get another Model S?

hsadler | 19/10/2013

This is California - I would sue Target!

Reasoning: having an entrance/exit directly across hwy from another - should be staggered to prevent this.

just sayin'

oh yeah, almost forgot... /sarc

Brian H | 19/10/2013

He wouldn't dare do anything else!

portia | 19/10/2013

sorry about your new car and hand, glad you are safe!
also curious about your hand position on the wheel, and exact injury.
take care and thanks for letting us know.

diegoPasadena | 19/10/2013

Wow! I'm glad you're OK. I hope your hand will heal soon. And I hope the SUV driver's insurance company will buy you a brand new Model S, with all the nice upgrades you might have left out the first time around - to compensate you for your pain and temporary loss of use of your hand.
I'm also curious about the hand injury: What was the reasoning, why it was attributed to the air bag? In race cars, drivers are encouraged to remove their hands from the steering wheel when they see a crash coming in order to avoid hand injury, when crash forces are transferred through the steering column to the steering wheel. Looking at your car, I'm thinking that the same might have happened to you, unless you had already let go by the time of impact.
Or does anyone know if the Model S has some sort of safeguard against such an energy transfer (which wouldn't surprise me)?

HenryT2 | 19/10/2013

Glad you're safe. Thanks for sharing.

church70 | 19/10/2013

You have any pics of the suv?

Atlantian | 20/10/2013

I can't remember where my hands were at the time of the crash. I don't think I let go of the steering wheel. I go to see my doctor Wednesday morning and then possibly an orthopedic surgeon. I'll find out then exactly what bone broke. It was my left hand that was injured at the base of the hand just above my wrist on the left side (pinky finger side).

Yes, I will absolutely be getting another Model S if the insurance company says it is a total loss which at this point I hope is the case. If that happens then I will really consider stepping up to a P85+!

Some family members and friends took some pictures of the wreck. I'll see if anyone has one of the SUV and then post it.

Thanks for all your well wishes!

cpetrush | 20/10/2013

I was once told by a Volvo performance driving instructor that broken arms are common injuries when airbags deploy because you actually break it as its pushed against your head. So you basically break it with your face. Not saying that's what happened here but it just reminded me I did hear that once, true or not.

hsadler | 20/10/2013

Latest thinking is driving with a 4 and 8 o'clock position for your hands (airbag tends to miss them when deployed). Previous was 10 and 2 o'clock and many people still use this.

Brian H | 20/10/2013

3 & 9, even.

stuberman | 20/10/2013

I'm very interested to hear that Tesla called because it noticed that you were in an accident. This sounds like an even better service than what I see in GM's OnStar ads. Did you learn from Tesla whether its systems monitor all cars and automatically have someone call to check on you if the system senses an accident? If so I feel even safer in my Model S.

Atlantian | 21/10/2013

I was actually called by the Costa Mesa service center and they told me that the vehicle reported an impact and wanted to make sure I was okay and to confirm that the vehicles safety systems functioned properly and protected me (which they did!). Just that little touch makes me even happier that I purchased a Tesla. Now I just have to wait and see what happens with the car. I terribly miss it already and am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of another Model S soon. I honestly believe that if I was driving a different car things wound have not turned out so well. The car is truly an amazing vehicle!

cmaso | 21/10/2013

This story sucks. Glad you are OK. Maybe I missed it, but any idea how fast you were going when you hit the pole.

ELECTRICFAN | 21/10/2013

You should go see the bone doctor tomorrow, not later. My father broke his hand in an accident and it was permanently deformed because he didn't get the bone set soon enough. Stupid ER sent him home and told him to see a doctor later - no hurry! You need to see the bone doctor immediately. Better safe than sorry!

Brian H | 21/10/2013

I still have a bend in my right hand's first bone from when I was 9, and broke it defending my youngest brother. Didn't see the doc for several days, by which time it had healed "at an angle"!

Atlantian | 30/10/2013

I wanted to update everyone on the status of this post.

First I wanted to thank everyone for your kind words and well wishes. I feel privileged to be a part of the Tesla community. Like Tesla itself, all the people on this forum go above and beyond. You are all great people!

High resolution photos of my car can be seen on Flickr at the following address. I was only able to come up with 1 image of the front of the Chevy Suburban that hit me by grabbing a frame from a HD video.

I was seen by a orthopedic surgeon last Thursday (10/24) and was put into a cast for 3 weeks. Apparently I fractured the fifth metacarpal in my left hand. I'm still shocked this was the only injury I sustained in the crash. In sounds crazy but now I feel a little less safe driving our other non-Tesla cars.

The insurance company finally called me yesterday (10/29) and confirmed that they are considering it a total loss.

Now for the good news..... Since my original car is now totaled, I went ahead and ordered a replacement with Tesla. I decided to get everything the same as my original car except I added fog lights and now will be getting the automatic folding side mirrors. The fine people at Tesla are even trying to see if they can expedite the build of my new car! I confirmed my order on 10/29 and received my new VIN a few minutes later! I once again have the "Tesla Grin" and can't wait for my new Model S to be delivered! I miss driving it terribly. | 30/10/2013

Thanks for the update and photos. Hopefully you'll have your new car about the time you're out of the cast.

It's interesting that the display is fully functional and powered when you took those shots after the accident. Sort of amazing how much is still working after major damage.

earlyretirement | 30/10/2013

I'm so happy to hear you are ok. Thank God you are ok. At the end of the day that is the most important thing in life. Good health.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story and photos with us.

jbunn | 30/10/2013

Truly a great product from a great company.

gill_sans | 30/10/2013

@Atlantian, I'm very glad to hear you're OK modulo hand injury, and that Tesla Motors is expediting the build of your replacement Model S. (Tesla-Grinning.) What a company. What a car.

Panoz | 30/10/2013

Gaaaah! Is no one going to ask HOW an SUV crossed multiple lanes of traffic to hit you? Was the driver intoxicated? Distracted? HOW?

hsadler | 30/10/2013

Was answered previously - driver trying to go from one shopping center to the one across the street (six lanes). Slight miscalculation of gaps in traffic. Est cost $100,000 - $200,000.

carlk | 30/10/2013

Aren't you glad that you bought the MS? Imagine that if you were in a lesser car, say BMW i3. ;-)

NKYTA | 30/10/2013

@Atlantian glad you are okay!

diegoPasadena | 30/10/2013

@Atlantian - I'm glad it's all working out for you now - except for having to wear a cast. And through you, I learned a fact that somehow had escaped me so far: Power folding side mirrors are available now!

amitb00 | 30/10/2013

Best wishes!! Take care and I hope you get back to normalcy soon.

Atlantian | 30/10/2013

@Panoz - I'm hoping to get a copy of the police report and witness statements which hopefully will answer that question. I know from the witnesses it spoke to that she gunned it to try and cross over and cut off at least one car on the side of the street where she started. There have been many accidents in this same spot and at least one fatality. The neighborhood is going to petition the city to either install a traffic light at the location or prevent people from crossing over by extending the median.

Brian H | 31/10/2013

i3? Yeah, lying in a heap of cf shards, impaled and riddled by many of them. Charming!

Justinde | 07/11/2013


Did your insurance company cover the total cost of the car or did you need to use Gap insurance to cover the rest? I only ask because I just finalized financing, and the lender recommended Gap insurance since the Tesla Model S is new and we don't yet know how insurance companies will settle claims.
Glad to hear your ok and getting into another S.

Low CG | 07/11/2013

Great post and thanks for sharing! Further confirmation that the Model S is an amazing machine.