BMW M5 Collides With Tesla Model S (w/video)


Over at the Tesla Motors website, there’s a “Customer Stories” section that highlights some of the positive Model S experiences.

This particular story is both positive and negative.

As Model S owner Vernon Huang tells us below, the safest vehicle in the US sustained damage (the negative part of the story), but all occupants were unharmed (the positive).

Huang notes that, as you’ll see in the video, he did not come to a complete stop.  However, the police report primarily faults the BMW M5 driver.

Model S Suffers Only Minor Damage

Model S Suffers Only Minor Damage

Here’s Vernon’s story:

Vernon H
March 7, 2014

I’ve used this incident as a teaching point to my teenagers that no matter how defensively you drive, or how confident you are of your surroundings, disaster can always strike. Given this reality of life, I’m glad that I drive the safest car on the road.

I wanted to write and share what I experienced when my Tesla Model S was involved in a major traffic collision. I had been driving my 60kwh Model S for about three months. I was thrilled with my purchase, having done a family road trip from the San Francisco Bay area to Southern California and Las Vegas over spring break. We never experienced any range anxiety, paid a grand total of three dollars for charging the entire trip and astounded bellmen and valets everywhere we went when the five of us would exit the car and unload seemingly endless amounts of luggage.

Needless to say, I was devastated when we were involved in a major collision. My wife and I, as well as another couple, were going home on a Friday night – my wife’s birthday. We were crossing a four way blind intersection in a quiet, unlit, residential neighborhood, when without warning, out of the corner of my eye, I saw headlights approaching at an extreme rate of speed and heard the loud roar of an engine. I barely had time to shout an expletive before the other car struck us and my airbags deployed.

It turns out that a teenage boy driving a BMW M5 at approximately 60 miles per hour completely ignored his stop sign and impacted the front end of my Model S. Everyone in the car confirmed that they were all right and exited the car. I called Tesla service at almost midnight and, to my surprise, someone answered the phone and was able to give me advice on securing the car for towing.

The police and fire department arrived within minutes and informed me that the other driver had come to a stop down the road; I had previously thought it was a hit and run. When I examined the other car, I saw an unbelievable amount of damage. The BMW had hit me hard enough that he had flipped and rolled his car at least twice and bounced off a large tree; he was on his wheels facing the opposite direction of his initial travel, and the car had experienced an incredible amount of damage from the impact and rollovers.

My Model S, on the other hand, had damage to the front bumper and looked pristine rearward of the bumper. When I looked in the bushes, I saw that the BMW had hit me with enough force to completely snap off a rear wheel and suspension. Luckily, the driver of the BMW was dazed but otherwise appeared uninjured.

I am enclosing some pictures of the cars involved in the collision as well as dashcam footage. When you examine the images taken at the moment of impact, you can see that the Model S barely moved laterally when the M5 hit our front end. The occupants experienced a slight jostling and the only injuries sustained were bruises due to impact from the lower airbags.

In a previous iteration of my career, I was a Navy Flight Surgeon assigned to a Marine Corps F/A-18 squadron where my training and duties included aircraft mishap investigation. When I examine the aftermath of my incident, I am convinced that fortuitous timing and the solid construction of my Tesla Model S saved our lives, the lives of another couple and prevented four young children from being orphaned.

Vernon H

Model S

Model S

Model S

Model S



Categories: Crashed EVs, Tesla

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

82 Comments on "BMW M5 Collides With Tesla Model S (w/video)"

newest oldest most voted

Alright im sorry but this is a knock on the driver.

How did he not see that car coming? First of all if you come to a 4 way stop sign AT NIGHT and a car passed opposite of you and blocks your visibility of all 3 other roads you wait a second until you can clearly see theres nothing coming.

That BMW had HIDS so it was kind of hard not see bright lights coming in the dark.

Sorry but that driver wasn’t completely paying attention because he was talking to the people in the car.

Thats why i dont like talking when driving because i lose my full focus on the road. This could have been avoided.

Way to blame the no-fault side. It’s a blind intersection, which means visibility is low. And the guy was going 60mph, so the distorts the perception of speed (driver would have been expected 35mph). And even if he saw the lights, he would have been expecting a stop (as it was a 4-way stop), not for the car to keep going.

It’s not a blind intersection and both drivers are to blame. The BMW is primarily at fault, but the Tesla driver was also at fault for not coming to a full stop and doing a California stop (rolling through the stop sign). If The Tesla driver came to a full stop, he would have seen the speeding BMW barreling into the intersection. Instead he rolled though the stop sign while the minivan blocked his view of the speeding BMW. The dash cam video will give the insurance companies all the evidence they need to assign the percentage of contributory/comparative negligence to each driver.

If you listen to the audio the Tesla driver/occupants were talking about “total range” etc. Perhaps distracted enough not to notice the BMW (which blew threw a stop).
The NHTSA might be very interested in this video since it is fairly well established that Tesla clearly has violated the distracted driving guidelines with the video screen etc.

Sven: You’ve seen the intersection?

Looks blind to me:

Thanks for the pic, no links to the original source story were given in the InsideEvs story.

That does look like a blind intersection. All the more reason for the Tesla not to roll through thru that stop sign. But still, no amount of Defensive Driving will always protect you from d!ckheads like the BMW driver.

Another photo posted of the intersection from an overhead perspective. Looks like a no win situation. By the time you get out far enough to see up the intersecting road, your nose is exposed for a dick head to smash into if he runs the Stop sign at 60mph

I just noticed that in your pic you can’t see the stop sign for the BMW driver. I assume it’s further back, and it’s not completely covered and hidden by the overgrown hedges. The stop sign should be lined up evenly with the painted stop line, but it’s not. Either way, it’s a dangerous intersection that’s poorly designed/maintained.

I’m not sure what you are trying to say. As a European, I am not accustomed to 4-way stops.

Isn’t this a situation where the first driver to the intersection is supposed to have the right of way? Wasn’t that the Tesla? And I don’t understand you blaming the guy going 1 mph, while the other was doing 60 mph? Both were obliged to stop, weren’t they?.

It seems the drivers each has fault, in different amounts, but also whoever designs no-safe infrastructure.

Example: speed limit and vehicle density are lower on the italian highways than the german autobahn.
But the bahn is designed better, so it is safer.

Another knock on the Tesla driver is that he’s a doctor (former Navy Flight Surgeon), and after the crash he didn’t go over to check on the BMW driver and provide first aid.

I also don’t believe the Tesla driver’s claim that “the solid construction of my Tesla Model S saved our lives, the lives of another couple and prevented four young children from being orphaned.” The passengers of any other car (ICE, hybrid, EREV, or BEV) would have survived that accident if their car hit the BMW in the same way as the Model S did. It was his “fortuitous timing” and dumb luck that his inattentive driving didn’t result in death or serious injury to the occupants of his Model S.

‘inattentive driving’

How would you describe the driving of the BMW driver?

BMW driver was reckless and criminally negligent.

As far as “inattentive driving” goes the Tesla’s driver is supposed to come to a full stop at a 4-way Stop sign and look both ways to see if safe to enter the intersection just as he would at a 2-way stop sign. But I might be a little biased. In NYC I’ve seen way to many accidents where a driver rolls through a stop sign and hits a pedestrian in the crosswalk because the driver is looking to his left for approaching cars. Rolling through a stop sign just to save a couple of seconds is the completely preventable cause of all these accidents. I personally hate having to jump out of the way when I’m in a crosswalk and a driver rolls through a stop sign. And it happens way too often.

Sven? Are you high?

I mean, surgeon or curtain rod salesman, anybody in an emergency situation like this one is going to check on his passengers first, and as he said, fire and police were at the location in minutes. I believe the situation was well in hand.

It’s very plain that the reckless, illegally-driven BMW caused the accident and it’s normal operating procedure to check on the victims before going off to check the assailant. Is it different where you are from?

James did you not have the sound turned on when you watched the video? At the end of the video they ask each other “are you OK?” the response is “I’m OK.”

You’re comparing a Navy Flight surgeon to a curtain rod salesman? Really? As a flight surgeon, he has training in emergency medicine, treating traumatic injuries, and triage. Sometimes minutes, even seconds, count when someone is critically injured. The difference between life and death can be whether someone applies direct pressure to a wound, preventing the injured person from bleeding out.

Victims vs. assailant? How can you or the Tesla driver make that assessment right after the accident? It could have been the case (it wasn’t) that the BMW had a mechanical malfunction like a stuck accelerator or the BMW driver had a medical emergency that left him incapacitated like a heart attack, seizure, or stroke.

And from where I’m from you help the wounded without first playing judge and jury, deciding whether the wounded is entitled to my medical help based on whether I deem them a victim or an assailant.

Sven, you’re perfect. You would act perfectly, there would be NO SHOCK, even seconds after such an incident from you – and, oh…I forgot…You’re perfect! 🙂

Oh Sven? I forgot to mention – my first new car was a Honda Prelude, and one day, after my workday was done I was cresting a hill in it at 40mph when a drunken woman and her drunken daughter dropped her wheels off the road, and over-corrected, spinning out and giving me zero reaction time as my car T-boned hers with approx. an 80mph closing rate. My engine moved back 11 inches and the responding officer said it was a miracle I was not only alive, but walking around. I kicked open my driver’s door and wobbled over to the two women and asked if they were OK – They looked as if in shock because my head was busted open and my face was covered
in blood like some sort of zombie – plus, I was still spinning from a severe concussion.

I’ll never forget their shocked reaction as they said, “are YOU OK?!”…LOL. So I think
I, myself took your advice, but I really freaked out those two ladies!

Along with their jail time I think they may have needed a bit of psychotherapy after that experience!

His account of the incident states he thought it was a hit and run because the car was so far down the road. Did you not read that part Sven?

Read my response to kdawg directly below this comment.

In the video, after the collision you can see one of the BMW’s blinking lights flashing on and off in the bottom right corner. The first pic shows just how close both cars are to each other after the collision (Tesla is in the background in the upper right corner). The last pic shows that the BMW’s lights are on after the collision. How could the Tesla driver not see the BMW’s lights after the collision? I believe the BMW driver is not being entirely truthful in his account.

Didn’t you read the letter? He didn’t even know the other car had stopped. He thought it was a hit & run.

“The police and fire department arrived within minutes and informed me that the other driver had come to a stop down the road; I had previously thought it was a hit and run.”

I don’t believe that he didn’t see the BMW after the collision. Look closely at the first pic and the video. In the first pic the BMW is in the foreground and the Tesla is in the background. The BMW is relatively close to the Tesla, and the BMW’s headlights, tail lights, and marker lights would have stayed on after the collision. In the last pic the lights on the passenger side of the BMW, which is facing the Tesla, appear to be on.

In the video, after the collision you can see the BMW’s blinker light faintly blinking on and off in the bottom right corner! The BMW’s blinking light would have been much more visible to the human eye than it is in the dash cam footage.

He said he thought it was a hit and run – he had no idea that the guy came to a stop down the road until the rescue people said so. I’m not sure how that is possible since rolling over and bouncing off a tree would make a noise, but when you’re completely surprised and have an airbag in your face, there isn’t much you are going to do.

I’d just like to point out that what you’re seeing in the video is from a wide-field of view camera that is placed in front of the driver on the dash. The dash cam is going to have a clear view of the car beyond a human’s non-peripheral vision. Even catching it in your peripheral vision, with the BMW going 60mph, you’d be lucky to react in time.

If the BMW had no stop sign, then it should be 100% Tesla driver’s fault?

It looks like driver had a stop sign in that when you look at the video you see the road lines for the stop sight light up and reflect in the pavement as he’s blowing the stop sign.

Yes…It was a 4-way stop.

4-way stops… As a european the idea of that is just so strange. Somehow you manage to get it to work but then I’ve seen countries where you can overtake on both sides and countries where you just honk when you overtake and it’s the driver coming at you in the opposite lane that has to slow down and give way to you.

But anyway… there is some blame to the Tesla driver but a shitload of blame to the BMW driver.

I agree with your assessment of blame.

As strange as 4-way stops are to you, roundabouts are an order of magnitude stranger to American drivers. It’s downright scary when clueless American drivers encounters a roundabout. It looks something like this:

However, roundabouts are starting to sprout up all over the United States.

Haha… I love Chevy Chase.. =)
Well, good for you. Roundabouts are way more efficient and a lot safer and you will surely not try to run straight through it at 60 mph 😛

You say that, but there was a roundabout near my house that numerous people have driven through around 60MPH. They’re usually high or drunk on this dark, curved road that is rated for 30MPH.

They built 4 brand-new roundabouts in my neighborhood in Kennedale, TX last year. I love them. They replaced 3-way and 4-way stop-sign intersections and the backup of traffic that used to be at those intersections is now gone. I also love not having to come to a complete stop.

However, occasionally we get a person pull up to one that seems totally baffled by their operation. I’ve seen people stop for no reason before going into the circle and I’ve seen people stop IN the circle for no reason, and a few times I’ve even seen people go the wrong direction on the roundabout, which is actually a very hard thing to do considering the curves in the road.

So they work great for 99% of people, but they are very dangerous due to the 1% that can’t wrap their brain around it.

Varying right-of-way rules for traffic circles can also lead to confusion and danger. In France, iirc, a driver on your right entering has priority over you, even if you’re already in the roundabout.

wow – in the US, anyone entering something has to yield to those already there, including roundabouts.

That is only a question of what you are used to. When first introduced to europe, drivers reacted similarly.

Logically, however, 4 way stops are ridiculous. The impede traffic flow for both roads, ie 4 flows.
Give one right of way, and the worst case senario is that only two traffic flows are slowed.

I agree that roundabouts are better, but it’s just what you’re used to. They put a roundabout on US Rt.15 in MD near the VA border. They are downright frightening at first (unless you’re the only one on the road, then it’s just confusing to figure out at first what lane you need and where each lane goes). The ones in DC are insane, with turnoffs at somewhat irregular intervals (because of the diagonal avenues), and people drive too fast, so you end up going around and around until you figure out where you need to go.

Traffic still slows down because you have to negotiate the roundabout, but at least it keeps moving at a far greater rate than a stop.

Seeing that video makes me laugh. Its not funny to me but just how easily that could have been avoided. The guy went when the other car crossed and he shouldnt have done that. He should have waited another second or two to see if anything was oncoming from the side of the road that was blocked by the passing car.

I think the Tesla simply pulled out in front of oncoming traffic? It doesn’t take much for a car pulling out slowly to clip and catapult a speeding car out of control. Think of how easily a pit maneuver can spin a car out . Fact of the matter is thst it”s more remarkable the BMW saved it’s car from injury than the Tesla driver simply from clipping the speeding BMW.

Is “Model S” the troll that’s been plying these waters of late? And Elroy might not be of driving age, as “4-Way Stop” just doesn’t seem to be sinking in. Any way you slice it, a teenager blows through a 4 Way Stop going 60mph, it MUST be the driver with the camera’s fault, right? PSSSHHH, you guys need to find another website to visit. Oh, yes….I forgot, the driver whose family escaped lethal injury was driving an electric Model S….ahhh haaaa…THIS must be their problem.

Hopefully Elroy can read my answer in response to all his, “German cars are quicker, nonsense he blessed us with in an earlier article. I responded to his nonsense earlier, and if anything, this video greatly backs up my comments earlier in the day.

James, I did respond to your assertions with video proof to back up my claims. Enough of your unsubstantiated claims. This accident was a very minor tap as these things go. The 500 horse V10 M5 revs to 8500rpm..the guy obviously wasn’t racing through the intersection, lol. Probably just inattention for both drivers was the main cause of this intersection.

James, it looks like you’re doing some trolling there yourself. 🙂

Model S makes some valid points. The Tesla driver rolled through the stop sign while the taxi blocked his view of traffic approaching the intersection from his left. A “California stop” will get you a traffic ticket in every state in the USA. The Model S driver could have easily avoided the accident if the he actually stopped at the stop sign and looked both ways before entering the intersection. James, perhaps you should take a Defensive Driving course before absolving the Model S driver from all blame. But as someone else said in this thread, the BMW driver deserves the shitload of the blame.

Hey Sven, I am really no big fan of roundabouts. Especially because so many people here do not know how to use them and cause different kinds of traffic messes. It’s OK though, because people are so “polite” in my area that four-way stops also become a comedy of errors. People cannot count and rudely cut you off, or, they just keep waving you through, as you patiently wait for them – the old, “you go, no, YOU GO!” thing is very silly, indeed.

I will grant you that – whilst no troll, I did replay the video to see your point, and I didn’t notice the first time that you are completely right on that point. The Tesla did
pull a California Stop for sure. Thanks for pointing that out, and I’m not past admitting my err if it’s fact. I thought the video started with him pulling out from a dead stop, but your observation was spot on.

I’ll give rich-boy teen a 9 for ineptness and reckless driving, and Tesla-talker a 5 for counting on pure regen and never tapping
his brakes to come to a complete stop for sure.

It does seem that running a stop sign at 60 mph would lead to “primary responsibility.”

And this also confirms the value of a dashcam.

The rescue people and cops don’t need dashcam evidence for something like this. They see one car with the front brushed, and the other quite a distance from the intersection, facing the other way, with damange that could only be caused by rolling over…it’s no mystery what happened and who’s at fault.

This is a amazing that a car can take a hit like this from a car going 60 miles on hour and not have the passengers need to be carried out by the fire department. The car also saved them form at least a million plus in medical bills and from being handicapped for life.

This also helps get rid of the notion that EV’s are unsafe.

Not remarkable, to me. A split second from a totally different outcome maybe, but a low-speed t-bone from another vehicle was all it took to send the BMW.

The question is, did the other car have a stop sign? I don’t see a limit line for the cross traffic. If not, the Tesla rolled right in front of the poor M5 which had the right of way. Secondly, the Tesla driver seemed distracted by his dash readouts?

If you keep hitting the pause button on the video to create a freeze-frame effect, you can see BMW’s headlights light up the STOP letters painted onto the road just before the BMW enters the intersection.

Thankfully the Dominoes driver made it through the intersection.

Ah.. Okay see the stop line for the BMW driver. So primarily his fault. Impact was relatively minor, people talking like nothing happened. In a SEVERE impact, people would be in shock. The brunt of the damage was when the BMW got catapulted off the road. Had the BMW of hit the side of the Tesla, or drivers door, probably would have been the first Tesla fatality. People just need to look at videos of what happens when a passenger car gets T-boned on the drivers door at 60mph. Tesla or not, you are dead.

And no fire. Just sayin…




One thing is completely true in this article, and that is no matter how safe of a driver you are there can always be accidents. In rl it was my job driving around 1k a week mostly city driving, with occasional jaunts out of town, for over 20 years. I have seen more accidents and bad driving than most and enough to last a life time.
Nowadays I travel under 25 miles a week. I really hate cars, drivers, roads.

I can hardly wait for autonomous driving. Too many idiots out there.

Kid driving an M5, at night. Sigh…

The way I saw this, defensive driving would have caused that driver to go to a “second stop” position when he had cleared the left turning vehicle. This is regularly taught in driving school these days. I do agree that primary responsibility is with the M5 driver who apparently was speeding as well.

Interestingly, I had a similar near incident but timing was good for me. A woman blew through a red light at 60 mph, I had a green arrow but something make me hold up just a fraction and she missed me by about a foot. Wouldn’t have been pretty.

Also, this is not an example of Tesla survivability as the other guy hit the very front of the car.

As to the doctor be shamed comment. That’s unfair. He was attending to his passengers and the other car had disappeared down the road. Until you are in an accident, you don’t know how you will react and how much shock, even if unhurt, affects you.

If you’re referring to my comment in the first thread, I never said the doctor should be shamed. I said “another knock” (echoing the OP’s comment) and it was meant as a mild criticism of the good doctor. In the first pic of the BMW you can see the Tesla at the intersection in the background. It’s not that far away from the Tesla. The doctor said the Model S “barely moved laterally” from the impact, his “occupants experienced a slight jostling,” and “everyone in the car confirmed that they were all right and exited the car” as can be heard on the video with people saying they were OK.

It just seems to me that after the doctor got out of his car, he could have checked on the other driver’s condition. I’m also not buying that the doctor didn’t see the BMW after the crash. The BMW ended up was relatively close to the Tesla, and some the BMW’s headlights, taillights, and marker lights would have remained on after the crash just as the Tesla’s headlights remained on after the crash.

Btw it is clearly no fault of the Tesla driver.
They are stopped. They start ahead. You can see the stop painted ahead of them. 9 seconds in you can see the Bmw blowing through the stop, painted on the street, to the left of the Tesla. Completely the fault of the bmw driver.
Failure to stop, excessive speed, and reckless

Tesla driver did not stop, he clearly rolls through the stop line without stopping.

Sven, We get it.

Tesla is totaled – once the air bags go off the car is considered totaled.

No way the Tesla is totalled. Hook up the power train and it would probably drive away fine. I have seen people driving around with way worse damage!

Call your insurance agent if you do not believe me.

I deal with insurance adjusters. Unless there is something specific with the Tesla, this accident is no big deal.. Prob $19k max. Air bag parts have come way down in price. Unless the repairs are about 80% of the blue book value, they will fix it.

I have had a car repaired once that had airbags go off. I don’t think that is a guarantee of a totaled car. But, it probably does raise the chances quite a bit.

FYI, even things such as headlight assemblies can cost more than the air bags nowadays.

what a shamefull report and All this is forged, is voluntarily caused/provoked.
as if american cars were better as german and french cars ?
Bmw should lodge a complaint against tesla.

Hahah… c’mon, French cars? You’re funny.

You are all gullible and naive, because everything is forged to favor tesla.

Got proof?

There is nothing remarkable here in comparing how the Tesla as a car did vs the BMW. The BMW driver did remarkably well considering the rollover. Remember, you could put a $20 car ramp out there to launch a car in a barrel roll through the intersection. If the car ramp suffered no damage, would you say it was built extraordinarily safe??

So basically its gotten to the point now that Telsa directly feeds PR about anything it can and the media picks up on it.
No coverage of Tesla distracted driver incidents?

The BWM driver is seriously at fault here.

However, the tesla driver should not get a free pass either. That absurdity of a rolling stop is nothing to boast about !!!!

Last time I checked: You MUST come to a complete stop when approaching a stop sign. Clearly, the Tesla driver did not do so.

Actually, it is funny that everyone is going over how well the Tesla did. But in fact, it is how well the M5 did that amazed me…

The M5 rolled over multiple times at high speed and the driver was “dazed but fine”….

The Tesla didn’t receive a direct hit. It was more a hit and swipe based on the video. If the Model S left half second earlier, the results would have been competeley different…

Kudos to modern engineering on the cars. I am glad that all party involved are safe thanks to the higher standards of the modern crash safety requirement…

It was a four way stop and there was no way the Model S driver could have seen the M5 coming, especially since it was coming at 60mph. He posted a picture of the intersection in daylight conditions on TMC.