Customer Stories


How safe is a Model S?

Brian Martel
December 2, 2013

Model S owner and father Brian Martel describes the recent collision he and his four children were in.

Here's his story:

During this time of overblown media hullabaloo, I thought I would send out a story about how safe my Signature Model S was. Sadly, I had to find out about the safety features of the Model S the hard way.

On the evening of November the 10th, just a day before my daughter would turn three, I was traveling west on Parker Road in Plano, Texas, when I was struck in the passenger door of my Model S by another car. I was T-Boned.

This wasn't at a normal intersection going through a traffic light or anything like that. The man who hit me was exiting the parking lot of a shopping center without stopping or slowing down at all. The crazy thing is that this exit doesn't allow a driver to drive across the boulevard or make a left turn due to the built in safety turn lane reserved for eastbound traffic. He came barreling out of the parking lot at 20 miles per hour or more, giving me just enough time to say, "What are you doing..." and thinking, "He's gonna miss us and go behind us...right...nope..."

As he slammed into my passenger side door, all of the side impact curtain airbags deployed as they were supposed to do. The other car scraped and dragged the rest of the way down the side of my Model S, spinning me around and pointing me in the wrong direction as I went up over the curb and onto the grass and sidewalk to come to rest there.

The first thing I did when the car came to rest was to ask my children if they were all ok. My wife was not traveling with us, but I had four children under the age of 11 in the car. My three sons, age 11, eight, six, and my daughter, the age of two years 11 months 16.5 hours. My oldest and youngest were in the second row, he in a regular seat belt and she in a car seat. The two middle boys were riding in the third row. The youngest boys had some small bumps but thankfully they were healthy and fine. My neck and lower back were sore from the jostling and sideways force into the air cushion and door, but that was it. Everyone was a little sore the next day, but nothing substantial as we took them all to their doctor to be sure.

So I quickly removed everyone from the car and made sure they were all fine, but of course there was lots of scared crying by my youngest boy and girl. It was a very scary accident. The driver side doors worked fine as did the rear hatch. Not a single window shattered in the whole car.

My wife arrived shortly after the accident since it was less than a half-mile from home. She was crying and scared but helped get all the children settled and calm with me. As she was ready to take the children home, I handed her two bunches of flowers I had bought for her and the leftovers from the dinner my children had just attended with friends. The reason why this matters to me is that the flowers were on the passenger seat, and the leftovers were on the passenger floorboard. The flowers were perfect, and the Styrofoam container of leftovers hadn't popped open at all, let alone exploded all over the interior as I expected. Nope, the leftovers and flowers were perfect.

My lovely Signature Red Performance Model S was not! In fact, the bumper from the other car was jammed into the side of mine and stuck in there. It took some effort for the tow truck driver to extract the bumper from my car. There were crazy dents and scratches and rips and tears along the whole passenger side.

But everyone was safe and sound and healthy, though my daughter couldn't stop saying "Daddy's car break. Daddy's car break." I'm not sure she had her priorities correct, but I appreciated the sentiment.

I should find out soon if the car will be repaired or totaled. I'm torn between both options...

On one hand, I love my signature and the low number. On the other hand, I'm not sure anyone can replicate the perfection, care, and safety of my amazing factory built Model S, so maybe a new one wouldn't be so bad.

But with all of that, I think about my family, and I am so blessed to have such wonderful children. And now I feel even more so as I give thanks for something crafted with such care and phenomenal engineering and design. My family is safe and sound because of the fine craftsmen and women of Tesla Motors.

Any other car would likely have rolled over and possibly caused severe injury to someone in my family. Thanks to the low center of gravity, not only was I hit, spun around, and as I slid, all four wheels up and over the curb, any one of those things should have flipped a normal car.

So, again, I say thank you for making such a random terrible road encounter (that should have ended much worse) into something positive and happy for my family. Now I long to get back into a Tesla. That day cannot come soon enough for my family and me!

Brian Martel
Proud Model S owner


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