New England Patriots NFL quarterback Tom Brady was on his way to practice when he crashed into a minivan which allegedly ran a red light. His Audi S8 car T-boned the other vehicle a few blocks from his home. A relieved New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft noted after the accident:
"[Tom] arched and prepared himself and we're just lucky with the glass and angles. We have a lot to be thankful for. It was really a miracle....We're very, very lucky. Patriot Nation is lucky he had his seatbelt on."
Was it simply luck or good car design and mechanical engineering? Crumple zones and the passenger cage of a car when built for maximum safety decrease injury. Yet, unfortunately, there is significant variability among safety in cars. Brady walked away from the accident for a variety of reasons. As a future hall of fame quarterback, Brady has lightning fast reflexes when analyzing defensive blitzes and options when throwing the football. Quickly bracing himself for impact may have helped. Wearing a seatbelt definitely helped.
What also helped the most was the type of car he drove. Audi cars were recently recognized by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety as Top Safety Picks with the manufacturer recognized with more models than any other luxury German car brand. Earning a Top Safety Pick requires that the vehicle receive a good rating in each of these categories - high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, and protection against neck injuries after rear impact with evaluations of seat/head restraints. Perhaps had celebrity Dr. Frank Ryan driven a top safety pick car despite his vehicle's rollover, he might be alive today. There is tremendous variability in a vehicle's ability to protect its occupants which vary among manufacturers as well as models and model year.
Driving a safe vehicle should be as important as exercising regularly, eating healthy, and maintaining a good weight. Much like quitting smoking or losing weight, the goal is to prevent premature death or disability. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for those under the age of 34 and the third leading cause of death for people between ages 45 to 54. Motor vehicle accidents account for the majority of unintentional injuries. In that moment, all of those healthy habits become meaningless, even for a superstar athlete. You can do everything right, like Dr. Oz, and discover that you still can have a precancerous colon polyp.
Life happens. Simply bad luck? Perhaps. What can you do to mitigate the risk or bad luck further?
Plan for it the best you can. In this case, having a car brand that is among the safest in the world, helps. His car saved his life and saved his career. It protected him from needing an emergency room visit and evaluation. As a result, Brady simply walked away from the accident. He made his practice a little while later and finished his drills with teammates. He displayed no sign of injury or diability.
Was all of that worth the time and effort to find a car that is fun to drive and yet incredibly safe?
You bet. Don't believe me?
Ask his wife, Gisele Bundchen, and his sons Benjamin and John. I'm sure they are glad to have him home safe and sound even as he takes his hits on Sunday as the premier quarterback in the NFL.