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“This Subaru saved my life!”
“This Subaru saved my life!”

The survivor of a horrific motorway smash says that his Subaru’s advanced safety features kept him protected against all odds.

What makes a Subaru so safe?

At Subaru, we believe world-class safety is essential, not an optional extra – so all of our cars are fitted with a host of innovative safety technologies as standard.

Known for their safety, capability and reliability, our vehicles are purposefully designed to provide the best possible protection for you and your family, in any and every situation.

We began performing collision tests back in the early 1960s, long before industry-wide crash testing was required. Today, we make some of the safest cars on the road. All Subaru SUVs and crossovers (Forester, Outback and XV) plus Levorg have the maximum 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

It’s our ambition to eliminate traffic accident deaths involving Subaru vehicles by 2030. Subaru’s All-Round Safety initiative calls for advanced protection to be built into every element of every vehicle we produce. This design and engineering requirement is applied across all four types of safety:

  1. Primary safety – Subaru’s advanced safety features are built into the design of every vehicle.
  2. Active safety – Your car is always working to keep you safe, on every journey.
  3. Preventative safety – An ‘extra pair of eyes’ on your surroundings helps keep everyone safe.
  4. Passive safety – In the event of an accident, your Subaru is a ‘cage’ that can save lives.

Advanced safety that saves lives

It was this passive safety, in particular, that proved to be a life-saving design feature back in February.

Derek Jones was sitting at the back of a motorway queue when he was hit by a truck travelling at 65mph.

Quite amazingly, he survived to tell the story – and he’s convinced that his Subaru saved his life.

“I didn’t know anything about what happened until later,” he says. “I think everyone else was expecting it to be ‘game over’. But these cars are really strong!”

What had been intended as a simple round trip turned horribly serious in the space of just a few seconds…

“It was a freak accident”

Derek and his wife had set out from their home in Monmouth, heading towards London, to return their two grandchildren to Derek’s son-in-law. They’d arranged to meet at the Chieveley service station on the M4 near Newbury.

Driving their 11-month-old Subaru XV, Derek was just half a mile away from the service station when he came across a long queue of standing traffic.

“It stretched as far ahead as I could see,” says Derek. “Because we were at the tail-end of this queue, my wife decided she was going to get out of the car with our 10- and 12-year-old grandchildren – so they got out and went to stand on the verge behind the barrier. And then the next second, this lorry came straight into the back of me!”

It was about midday, in reasonable weather, and with traffic flowing freely on the west-bound carriageway. But, for some reason, the driver of the panel van simply didn’t see Derek sitting at the back of the long queue of traffic. “It was just a freak accident,” says Derek.

He adds: “My wife reckoned there was a good 400-500 yards of empty road behind me, but this lorry just came straight into me. Really, we were so lucky that it was just me in the car at the time!

“The police say the tachograph shows that he was doing about 65mph when he hit me. But I didn’t feel or hear anything at the time – I must have lost consciousness as soon as he hit me.”

Inherent strength in a potentially devastating impact

The collision catapulted Derek’s XV into the barrier at the edge of the hard shoulder and then out into the middle lane of the motorway. Again, incredibly fortunately, no other vehicles were involved – and a nearby motorist was able to immediately call for the emergency services.

“My wife and grandchildren were horrified by what they’d seen,” says Derek. “I’m very lucky to be alive. I must have been unconscious for quite some time, because when I came round my son-in-law had already managed to get to the scene. I could see him leaning in through the back window of the car and I realised that firefighters had cut the doors and central pillar off to get me out.”

Surrounded by several fire engines, police vehicles and an ambulance, with the air ambulance also on the scene, Derek recalls that the first thing he heard when he started to regain consciousness was the “awful crunch, crunch, crunch” of firefighters using their ‘jaws of life’ hydraulic equipment to cut and prise their way into the vehicle to gain access to him.

“That was a pretty horrible noise,” he admits. “But I knew they had to do it. Mind you, they told me they even broke one set of equipment trying to get to me – Subarus are incredibly strong cars!

“I remember asking my son-in-law how he was, then I asked the fireman nearest me if he wanted me to get on the stretcher. And he said ‘Well, can you?!’

“And, actually, I could. I was probably in shock. But I just got out and got on the stretcher! I can remember one firefighter saying to other emergency responders: ‘Bloody hell! He just got out on his own!’

Serious injuries, but “could have been a lot worse”

“They took me straight to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford – and I was on a trauma ward for a week.”

“I had seven broken ribs, two broken bones in my neck and two broken bones in my back. I fractured my collarbone, my teeth were all knocked loose, and I had various cuts and bruises all over me. But it could have been a lot worse!”

It’s going to be a long road to recovery for Derek, as he has ongoing affects from the collision. The 72-year-old former grocery store owner suffered from stress and hallucinations and is still receiving lots of medical treatment for the injuries he sustained, several months later.

Designed to absorb and dissipate energy

That said, Derek is the first to admit that both he and his car suffered amazingly little damage – all things considered... And that’s largely due to the way his XV was designed and built.

Building the latest generation of Subaru vehicles on the Subaru Global Platform increases the body strength of our cars by 40%. In the event of a collision, the frame of each vehicle is designed to absorb and safely dissipate more energy, directing it away from occupants, beneath the seating compartment.

An integrated ring-shaped reinforcement frame also strengthens the passenger cabin from the roof to the doors, pillars and floor. This design feature again helps to divert and dissipate impact energy away from the car’s occupants in a collision. It also contributes to strengthening and lightening the chassis, leading to greater, reinforced protection. Which could explain why the firefighters had to work hard to get to Derek in the first place…

“We’d previously bought Citroën C3s for several years,” says Derek. “But I absolutely loved the Subaru van I had for work years ago and always wanted another Subaru. So when we changed the car last year, we went for this one. And we’re very impressed with it – especially now!”

“We’re so very glad we chose to buy a Subaru!”

Derek is keen to praise the protective qualities of his car: “The advanced safety features are incredible. The visibility, the driver monitoring system, the alerts you get and the way it’s built too. You can see from the photos of my accident that the XV actually still looks pretty much like a car, rather than just a crumpled lump of metal!

“I personally think that if I hadn’t been in a Subaru, I wouldn’t be here today. The protection it offered me saved my life. I absolutely believe that.

“It’s been a pretty horrific experience over the last few months. But we’re both so very glad we chose to buy a Subaru!”

So are we, Derek! Thank you so much for getting in touch with our Customer Service team to share your story.

Discover Subaru safety

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