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Save Yourself: Former IIHS president ‘wouldn’t be here to talk’ about near-fatal 2021 crash, if not for safety ratings

Arlington, Virginia — Do you ever have those moments where you catch up with a favour you did for yourself in the past? Like putting a note in your calendar to cancel a free trial before you get charged. Well, the former president of the IIHS, Adrian Lund, has himself to thank for crucial vehicle safety features that likely saved his life after a collision last year.

Lund was driving down Interstate 95 from his home in Virginia to Savannah, GA. in August of 2021 when he collided head-on with another driver who had inexplicably pulled a U-turn into oncoming traffic. It is estimated that Lund was travelling between 100 and 105km/h, and the other driver at about 80km/h, at the time of the crash.

When the dust settled, Lund was upside down and contending with serious cuts and bruising on his arms, while the other driver, who tragically was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from her car and died.

“This was a high-speed crash; one that, probably ten years ago, I wouldn’t be here to talk to you about,” Lund said.

Given the circumstances of the crash, Lund says the safety systems on his 2020 BMW 540i prevented an already tragic situation from getting worse.

“In a crash like this, you don’t come out uninjured. Considering the crash I was in, that I had a frontal, followed by a rollover—yeah, I’m pretty lucky. The car did its job.”

Lund’s particular BMW model just happened to be a 2020 IIHS Top Safety Pick, and he says he has personally witnessed the advancement of the vehicle’s safety capabilities and the OEM’s attention to specific crash scenarios.

He says he has observed crash tests of scenarios similar to the one he ended up in where test dummies record high injury levels in their legs—and yet Lund came away from the accident without a single broken bone.

During Lund’s tenure as IIHS president, a position he held from 2006 until his retirement in 2017, he championed efforts to mandate laws surrounding seat belt use, speed and red light cameras, as well as the use of child seats in vehicles.

BMW’s vice-president of vehicle safety, Dominik Schuster, said this case speaks to the importance of the relationship between the IIHS and OEMs.

“In the end, it’s all about one thing—providing vehicle occupants with the best possible protection in the event of an actual crash. IIHS has also been pursuing the same goal for decades. By setting requirements and performing tests derived from real-world crashes, they have been instrumental in driving vehicle safety.

“Ultimately, the crash Adrian Lund had with his BMW 540i is a powerful example of how the interaction between consumer protection organizations like IIHS and automakers saves lives on the road.”

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