Orthopaedic surgeon Jonathan Braman has spent a lot of time working on patients injured in violent car accidents. That’s why he knew what to expect for his family and himself after his Tesla Model X was struck by a large GMC truck at over 45 mph after it ran a red light. To his surprise however, all 6 passengers (and his dog) walked away from the severe accident.

Braman credits Tesla and Elon Musk for keeping his family away from serious injury or death by designing what could very well be one of the safest vehicles ever built. Let’s take a look at all of the factors why through Braman’s accident, which happened in Bloomington, MN, over the weekend.

As mentioned, Braman is an orthopaedic surgeon from Edina, Minnesota. He is a longtime electric vehicle enthusiast and Tesla supporter. He owns a Tesla Roadster (#1102 which he bought in 2010) and he reserved his Model X back in 2012, which means he had to wait four years to get the vehicle.

He took delivery of the all-electric SUV in April and while he only had the vehicle for 4 months, he now says that he would gladly wait another 4 years if it can save his family from any severe injuries again.

Last weekend, again only 4 months after receiving his Model X, Braman was making a turn on a green light from East Bush Lake road to I-494 in Bloomington, he made sure no one was coming from the other side even though the light was red on the opposite side of the 4-lane road, but as he made the turn, a large GMC Yukon ran the red light and hit the front fender of the Model X on the passenger side.

Based on the distance the truck traveled in the second he saw it before the impact, Braman estimates that the truck was going well over 45 mph.

He was particularly surprised by the efficient deployment of the airbags in the Model X. He says it covered the entire passenger compartment including the full panoramic windshield, which runs all the way over the driver and front passenger. Braman says that his only injury is actually from the impact of the airbag on his hand. He had it x-rayed at the hospital and while it is bruised, nothing is broken. Fortunately, same goes for everyone else in the car, including his father who was sitting in the front passenger seat – only inches from the impact point.

Here are a few pictures of the aftermath (pictures by Jonathan Braman reprinted with permission – click for higher resolution):

As you can see from the pictures, it’s another great example of the large crumple zone, which is due to the lack of a large combustion engine in the front, taking the bulk of the impact. Although less severe, the aftermath is reminiscent of the spectacular Tesla Model S crash after flying 82+ft in the air, which also showed the importance of a large crumple zone – something easier to accomplish in designing an electric vehicle.

Branman says that despite the severity of the impact, the Model X barely moved since the truck just ripped through the “frunk” of the Model X.

Additionally, Braman believes that if he was in any other car, the vehicle would have likely rolled over from the impact. The Yukon stands higher than the Model X and weighs about the same – roughly 5,450 pounds. He thinks that the low center of gravity, thanks to the large battery pack, helped keep the Model X on the ground.

Earlier this year, we reported on Tesla failing to make the Model X rollover through its own internal testing of the vehicle in preparation for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests. Tesla expects the Model X to become the first SUV to get 5-star rating in each of the safety categories, including in rollover.

More pictures (again by Jonathan Braman reprinted with permission – click for higher resolution):

Braman was also impressed with Tesla’s customer service following the accident. Tesla receives an alert if the airbags in one of its vehicles are deployed and the automaker has been known to contact the owner to make sure everything is OK. Braman says that he received a call from the company within 5 minutes.

Also, he says that his local Tesla technician contacted him, even though he was on vacation, after seeing a post about the accident Braman shared on Facebook.

“Thank you Tesla Team for our lives and our safety,” he wrote.

He is still waiting to hear from his insurer, but his Model X is likely totalled. It’s his wife’s car since his Tesla Roadster is still his daily driver. When talking to him Sunday night, he says that he now can’t imagine putting his family in any other car than a Tesla.

“I want my family back in a Tesla,” Braman told me during a phone interview.

Fortunately for him, he will not have to wait another 4 years since Model X production is now in full swing at Tesla’s Fremont factory. Wait times are down to less than 3 months for most vehicle configurations.

About the Author