Passengers survived a 250-foot fall in California. See how Tesla helped

Rescuers called it nothing short of a miracle.
Ameya Paleja
Crashed Tesla
Crashed Tesla

Cal Fire/Twitter 

A Tesla car carrying two adults and two children passengers fell off a 250-foot cliff along the Pacific Coast Highway in California and crashed on a rocky beach. All four passengers survived the crash with non-life-threatening injuries, CNN reported.

Tesla has always claimed that its cars have the lowest probability of injury among vehicles tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Last year, the European New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) gave the Model Y, Tesla's fastest-selling car, a 92 percent overall score for its safety, much higher than its competitors.

While these programs test cars for a host of scenarios, such as frontal impact, lateral impact, rear impact, and safety assist features, no car testing program could have possibly tested a car for what the Tesla sedan underwent on Monday morning.

Tesla plunges down a cliff

According to California Highway Patrol (CHP), the accident occurred 20 miles (32 km) south of San Francisco in Devil's Slide. The Tesla, carrying two adults, a nine-year-old boy, and a four-year-old girl, was traveling southbound on Highway 1 south of the Tom Lantos Tunnel when it veered off the roadway before falling off the 250 feet cliff and landing on the rocky beach.

Rescuers told CNN that from the damage seen on the vehicle, it appears like it hit and flipped several times before landing on its wheels. Firefighters had to rappel down the cliff to the car and found that all four passengers were trapped inside the vehicle but conscious when the rescue team reached the mangled remains of the car.

The children were freed first and lifted up the cliff using a rope, while a CHP helicopter was tasked with hoisting adults to safety, a video of which was shared on Facebook by the rescue agency.

The identity of those involved in the crash has not been revealed. However, the children were unharmed, and the adults suffered non-life-threatening injuries. CNN reported that authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash but do not believe any of Tesla's self-driving features were active at the time.

Safety features in a Tesla

Since Tesla does not have an engine, the battery pack is the heaviest part of the car, and its placement at the bottom of the structure is aimed at reducing rollover risk. The vehicle design also includes a side sill to absorb the impact energy while the rigid body structure helps reduce cabin intrusion, the company claims on its website.

Tesla cars also have large empty spaces in the front and the rear that serve as crumple zones and soften the impact while allowing airbags to inflate fully and protect passengers.

Tesla also claims that its battery packs rarely suffer severe damage in case of an accident. However, even if they do, the battery pack design ensures the fire is isolated to select areas within the battery and that the heat is spread away from the passenger cabin and the battery pack.

The likely combined effect of these features is that the four passengers survived at a location where others didn't. Rescuers called it nothing short of a miracle. Some would call it perfect engineering.

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