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Model 3 July 1 accident and side air bags

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,337
10,266
SF Bay Area
Business Insider had this article today about a Model 3 accident back on July 1 in Maryland where the passenger, a female professor from George Washington U, was severely injured. Not much info was given in the BI article about the circumstances of the accident so a little online research turned up a blog where her newly married husband and her mother posted about her progress after the accident. If you scroll down to the July 3 post by her husband, he recounts what happened and you'll have better picture of the accident and can relate it to the BI article where her attorneys are quoted in the article. Beautiful lady. Kudos to the husband for not bailing on her. I've read accounts of that happening in bad accidents with serious injuries. Quite a test of one's devotion to someone you just pledged your life together with. Wish them all the best. Sadly their young son in the second row also had severe injuries.

Curious to hear people's thoughts on the side air bag deployment given what damage we can see from the car and reading the husband accounting of what happened. He was driving and the car was pushed through the guard rail and into the median. Sounds like the passenger side where the wife was seated would have been impacted by the other car and guessing the guard rail possibly. The windshield looks dented inward.

Tesla airbags didn't inflate when a family's Model 3 crashed into a guardrail, and claim the company isn't cooperating with the investigation, victims' lawyer says

Health Updates — Dr. Kristian H.
 
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Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
11,326
10,366
Visalia, CA
...Curious to hear people's thoughts on the side air bag deployment given what damage we can see from the car and reading the husband accounting of what happened

Usually, Tesla wouldn't voluntarily give owners the car's data.

I imagine it would become more defensive when contacted by a lawyer who did not offer any assurance that there won't be any lawsuit against Tesla.

From the 2 pictures, there was no significant damage to the left side except for the left fender that was stripped off. The right side had no photo. And the real damage was from the front. That makes me think there was no significant damage to the right where the passenger was.

It sounded like the Tesla driver was on lane 1 which is the very left lane and the other one was on his right which is lane 2.

Lane 2 driver then made a left lane change from lane 2 to lane 1.

Lane 1 driver was pushed from his right by lane 2 driver and Lane 1 driver ended up colliding with the median in front.

This same direction pushing force is not the same as a perpendicular cross-traffic collision.

Thus, I have no idea whether side airbags are designed to deploy or not when there is no significant force from the side.

I don't know how airbags work but it looks like it did a wonderful job for the driver which might be the emphasis. Passengers do benefit from airbag system too but I don't think as much as the emphasis for the driver.

It is true that airbags don't deploy in every collision as I've read in this forum from those who were surprised that they were not for their cases.

Some otherwise survivable low-speed collisions but with airbags deployment resulted in unexpected fatalities.

Thus, just like most of everything, airbag deployment must be designed to weigh in when benefits outweigh risks.
 
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KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
4,422
4,136
Maine
Sad story, hope she and the child continue to recover.

As for the side airbag deployment, it's possible that the threshold for side deployment wasn't reached. A car merged into their lane and pushed them into the guardrail.

The impact, from what little we can see, appears to have been a rotational one, where the front of the car rotates against the guardrail, that's why we see both fenders missing, and the front bumper not really dented in too much, as the car spins/rotates as it contacts the guardrail, hitting on the driver's fender first, then rotating around the front of the car, to the passenger's fender last. It's obviously a fast rotation, which can cause heads to hit things, potentially causing subdural hematomas, but strangely it may not cause a big enough g-spike to trigger an airbag. Let's hope the data is preserved for the family's experts to study to better understand the cause of their injuries.
 
Ultimately what matters is how much did all the passengers (driver included) suffer as a result of the crash. Whether or not the airbags deployed could be a result of the vehicles computer making calculations. If the computer felt that the impact did not warrant a deployment, then the vehicle design and materials should have prevented major injuries. What is concerning is that some of the passengers in this crash have suffered major injuries. Tesla needs to seriously look into this and reconsider branding its vehicle as one of the safest in the world. Its the year 2020 almost - any manufacture claiming top safety must ensure that passengers walk out with only minor injuries.
 

AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
12,561
16,059
San Diego
Hope they get the data. It’s very sad that they suffered major injuries and hopefully they can get their questions answered. It’s unlikely they’ll ever feel it is really “answered” of course, no matter what Tesla provides, and the effects of this accident will last a lifetime.

Very hard to tell what happened in the collision - would need accident reconstruction, pictures from the scene, etc. News sources are not designed to provide that info in any way even if they are highly detailed (which these are not).

It’s possible that even with airbag deployment it would not have prevented these injuries. Presumably the child was in the middle seat (maybe not - no info?) and he was also injured. No idea where Kristian was sitting. Driving in a vehicle at high speeds is quite dangerous - things can fly through windows resulting in trauma, etc. Sounds like the vehicle stopped rapidly from freeway speeds - that is tough. Maybe the side airbags should have deployed - no idea. I assume they were all wearing seat belts - sounds like the child was for sure of course - still injured.

Anyway, no information available on this, so impossible to say what might have happened and what “should” have happened. Can’t even speculate really.

No matter how safe a vehicle you drive, crashing is never safe. It just sucks, and you hope you don’t get hurt.
 
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Its the year 2020 almost - any manufacture claiming top safety must ensure that passengers walk out with only minor injuries.
That’s an impossible standard. ‘Top safety’ doesn’t mean ‘serious injury proof’. Making a car that was injury proof for the occupants would result in a veritable tank costing half a million $$.
 
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There are a lot of innovations over the last 100 years that were deemed impossible. However, some individual or company led the way and made the impossible possible. Tesla is ab example of this. A car doesnt need to be a tank to prevent major injuries from common highway accidents. We can agree to disagree here.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,337
10,266
SF Bay Area
Oh there was definitely damage to the passenger side. Pretty ripped up and open like I think we’ve seen from another accident where the vehicle causing the damage came from the side and behind a bit. Guessing the driver didn’t check their blindspot before moving over.

AppleNews under “Tesla” has a small photo of the passenger side as an intro to clicking on the story however Business Insider didn’t publish it in their article. Looks like the other car might have initially hit the rear passenger door scraping forward and kind of prying and piling up the side front door metal towards the right wheel area near where the side view mirror would have been. Pretty open view to the passenger seat. The other car striking this car like that on impact would have sent the Model 3 and passengers toward the left as it tried to enter the same lane. Looking at it I’m not sure if a side airbag deployment would have helped, but it does bring up the question of under what conditions do the side bags deploy?

No question can you build a really safe car but not be able to protect passengers 100% of the time.
 
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There are a lot of innovations over the last 100 years that were deemed impossible. However, some individual or company led the way and made the impossible possible. Tesla is ab example of this. A car doesnt need to be a tank to prevent major injuries from common highway accidents. We can agree to disagree here.
You can disagree all you want. Technology has limits. We are still a LOOONG way off from economically viable cars capable of injury free accidents at highway speeds (or injury free plane crashes, train crashes, ship collisions, etc.). Period. The mass of a normal car traveling at 70 mph results in an enormous amount of kinetic energy.
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
11,326
10,366
Visalia, CA
...Hope they get the data...

The article only talked about a routine Preservation Letter which instructs Tesla not to destroy any evidence related to this case.

It seems to suggest that if a Preservation Letter is served, Tesla should voluntarily submit all evidence to the lawyer.

On one side, Tesla is portraited as not responsive but the article also said: "A Tesla representative said the company did, in fact, respond and was waiting for more information from the victim's lawyer."

The car's log can be obtained by either:

1) Subpoena: The article did not say that the lawyer had subpoenaed Tesla for the car's log.
2) Do-It-Yourself: https://edr.tesla.com.
 

AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
12,561
16,059
San Diego
1) Subpoena: The article did not say that the lawyer had subpoenaed Tesla for the car's log.
2) Do-It-Yourself: https://edr.tesla.com.

Sure. In a case of a serious injury like this, I would want Tesla to be responsive. However, they do seem to have a pretty hard time doing anything other than building pretty awesome cars.

I don’t think it should be necessary to do it yourself in a case like this - though obviously an option.

As with most BI articles, it seemed to be poorly written and sourced. I like how the title says that the airbags did not deploy, yet that appears to be untrue (the side airbags did not deploy). And they can’t even provide a bunch of interesting pictures along with the article - they clearly have them, as mentioned above, one shows on Apple News - nowhere in the article.

I just want the family involved to have as little in the way of hoops to jump through to have their questions answered. They have other things to deal with.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,337
10,266
SF Bay Area
If you want to see a photo of the passenger side of the car, go to Google, go to search images and enter this: cohen milstein tesla model 3

The photos of the car I think are subject to copyright to the lawyers, cohen milstein and I haven’t seen published at any other site that I can link to.
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
11,326
10,366
Visalia, CA
...family...

However, it now has a threatening legal tone instead of friends-and-family rapport.

"This case will be, to my knowledge, the first case like this against Tesla,"

"The fact that they self-promote that it's safe when the government told them they can't do that, first-blush indication is that on this vehicle, the safety mechanisms failed,"

"Tesla has the ability to monitor their vehicles out on the roadway. Unlike Ford or General Motors or Toyota, Tesla seems to have that ability. Who owns that data? Is it our client? Is it Tesla? Certainly we're going to seek it, and they should voluntarily provide it to us,"

This does not sound like a helping hand to Tesla to make its car safer.

It sounds like they don't believe Tesla's safety claim and they want Tesla to voluntarily manufacture evidence to incriminate itself that Tesla is unsafe.

He's a lawyer. He knows how to get car's log. Get a subpoena!

If he's concerned about safety, the first thing he should do is to submit for NTSB investigation and it's unprofessional to start bad-mouthing Tesla prematurely without NTSB supporting report!
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,337
10,266
SF Bay Area
I agree with Tam in that lawyers know the legal procedure to get information. Going to the press is another route they’ll pursue. I suspect given the families medical bills, insurance under the other driver isn’t sufficient to cover so then as a plaintiff’s lawyer you look to whomever else you can go after. The guardrail manufacturer could be next for failing to prevent the car from staying on the highway and somehow contributing to the medical issues. Might go after the manufacturer of the other person’s car for not warning her she was going to hit someone during her lane change. I suspect that’s what this article is all about—looking for another pocket.

Car manufacturers simply can’t protect passengers from all injuries and I don’t think Tesla or anyone else has ever made that claim. We’ve seen Government testing and some accidents photos/videos where direct side impact collisions (the all too frequent T-boning by a red light runner) have had side airbag deployment and done well by the driver/passenger. I just don’t think I’ve seen testing for this type of accident.

From my observation BI does seem to produce a number of negatively slanted articles against Tesla BTW.
 
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Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
11,326
10,366
Visalia, CA
If you want to see a photo of the passenger side of the car, go to Google, go to search images and enter this: cohen milstein tesla model 3

The photos of the car I think are subject to copyright to the lawyers, cohen milstein and I haven’t seen published at any other site that I can link to.

It looks like the right side was severely cutting apart. It's unclear if that was from the accident or from the rescuers' work.

The upper portion of the stainless steel from the right front door was bent from inside out and had a very clean straight cut. That kind of clean-cut should not be from the collision.

It might look more like on both right front and rear doors that they were a work of metal sheet cutting after the accident.

There's white stain from the right fender up all the way to the right pillar then to the roof and also on what left of the right front door and right rear door. That could be the cement dust coming off a tall median or median column.

There's a white pressure imprint at the right fender above the front right tire and also same kind at the right rear door. They look like the force of frontal collision against a cement object and not a cross-traffic collision or a sliding/pushing collision from the right side.

As @KenC said, this looks like a rotational collision: The front got hit first then it rotated and the right side to get the worst of the collision force next.
 
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Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
11,326
10,366
Visalia, CA
The test below might shed some light on side airbags behavior:


It looks like side airbags don't deploy with frontal collisions.

They do for side collisions.

But they didn't test a rotational scenario where the first frontal collision becomes then a side collision next.

The lawyer needs to subpoena or get an expert witness on side airbag deployment behavior and video a rotational frontal then side collision.
 
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