Tesla Model X Saves Family From Runaway GMC Yukon


Jonathan Braman was driving with his family in a Tesla Model X this last week when it was plowed into by a clueless clod piloting a gargantuan GMC Yukon. The SUV ran a red light (can you say “distracted driving,” boys and girls?”) and sheared off most of the Tesla’s right front corner before coming to a stop.

Model X saves lives in MInnesota

“I rapidly got out of the car and was lucky enough to have a group of young men who were behind me in line at the light help extract us from the car. I quickly got my family as far away from the GMC as I could. I was unsure if the gasoline in that car was stable and worried that his car would catch fire.” He adds, “We are alive. I’m pretty sure any other 7 passenger vehicle would have rolled if hit by this distracted Detroit Missile.”

The collision revealed some of the lesser known safety features of the Model X, like leg airbags. Basically, the interior of the car converts itself into a really big pillow in the event of a collision.  “The other car was forced to glance off of us and came to a stop. The crumple zones worked, and my father who was sitting several inches from the point of impact was seen and discharged from the hospital. He would have been much more seriously injured if there were less safety protections. The leg airbags (and the others as well) deployed, protecting him even further.”

Braman is an orthopedic surgeon who is all too familiar with neck and spinal cord injuries caused by auto accidents. He fully appreciates what might have happened to him or his family if the Model X spun around or rolled over.

He bought a Tesla Roadster in 2010 and was one of the first to put down a deposit on the Model X in 2012. After waiting 4 years for his second Tesla, he says, “I waited 4 years for this one and would wait 4 more if that is what it took to protect my family like this.” Elon Musk says the Model X may be the safest car ever built. Jonathan Braman would agree.

Source: Teslarati  Photo credit: Jonathan Braman

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • “I’m pretty sure any other 7 passenger vehicle would have rolled if hit by this distracted Detroit Missile.”

    I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I suppose the low center of gravity from the batteries helped, but that kind of impact is more of a spin than a roll situation. I wonder if Telsa’s smart systems used in auto pilot can help prevent such a spin.

    His comment about the gasoline amuses me as well. I think he’s seen too many movies where cars magically explode on impact.

    • Steve Hanley

      Ahh, perhaps the good doctor is a bit flowery in his praise, no?

      My reaction was that the GMC sustained relatively little damage compared to the damage to the Tesla. But why quibble? If he thinks he needs a $150,000 car to keep his family safe, who am I to demur?

      • Win Dias

        Here’s the thing, during a crash most of the kinetic energy needs to do some work to dissipate, if the car gets crumpled a lot, which means the body took majority of the impact and less is transmitted to the passengers. So Tesla Model X has actually done a much better job than the GMC

    • kevin mccune

      I guess he looked at the crash between the Tesla and the ICE car which caught on fire after the crash,make no bones about a gasoline fire can be a very deadly thing, I have seen too many people with severe gasoline burns,remember what “jellied gas ” can do.I do think though that most modern cars would have fared pretty well during that scenario ,but again at first glance appears really extensive ,till you look closer ,the damage to the Tesla is really not as bad as it seems to be struck on the corner by a heavy truck And I bet there are few more thousand dollars in damage on the Jimmy then first evident ,nothing goes to the repair shop for peanuts now .(The Tesla owner did sound a bit condescending ,eh ? you can delete that comment if you wish)

      • neroden

        The Tesla is designed with crumple zones *everywhere*. The crumple zones crumpled like they were supposed to, with no intrusion into the passenger compartment. Nice design.

  • DFinMA

    There’s a lot more physics going on than what is written — direction(s) of travel, speed, braking/turning at moment of impact, mass, structure, et. al. While there are more bits of the Tesla on the ground there’s really not significantly more damage and the open hood, doors and trunk make the picture more dramatic. The left front wheel is barely damaged.

    There’s no way the claims can be substantiated:
    – “any other 7 passenger vehicle would have rolled…”. Probably not based on the glancing impact.
    – …”much more seriously injured if there were less safety protections…” No way of knowing.

    It’s also worth noting that “safe” and “crash-worthy” are two different things. A “safe” vehicle, the biggest factor of which is the driver, is less likely to get into a crash. A crash-worthy vehicle sustains less damage or injury in the event of a crash.

    That said I’m glad everyone is okay.

  • Rayjht

    I hate it when “writers” editorialize instead of just reporting the story.

  • kevin mccune

    On reflection ,is this photo supposed to endorse the big ,rugged safe SUV? ,perhaps we need a shot from another angle a lot of the white debris seems to have come off the SUV.(The naysayers ,will harp” Greenies 0,cowboys 1 ).

    • People that think that the vehicle that shows less damage is safer should probably learn more physics. As Win Dias said, more damage means the car did its job of absorbing energy from a crash.

      P.S.: The space goes after the comma, not before.

      • kevin mccune

        Well , i’m not really concerned that much about sentence structure ,I see a lot of typos too and just let them slide.Been around too many decades to worry about such things.If I was a proper Brit you could let me have it ,but ,alas ,I am just a poor suffering semi -redneck.
        Anyway , the crumple zones did their work ,maybe the air industry could learn a few things from the likes of Elon.(A few less passengers a new magnitude of crash worthiness ,as an aside way cant the fuel tanks be made to be able to be jettisoned from the airliner body ?
        P.S , you should see what my wireless keyboard does on certain sites.

  • nitpicker357

    GMC Yukon weight: 5,379 to 5,626 lbs MPG: Up to 16 city / 23 highway Cost: $48,315 to $57,000
    Tesla Model X weight: 5,271 to 5,381 lbs MPGe: Up to 101 city / 102 highway Cost: $80,000 to $95,500