The BMW X5, the world's first light truck equipped with a head protection system, demonstrated the importance of such systems in a recent side-impact crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The test involved ramming an X5 sideways at 18 mph into a stationary pole. While the impact speed of this test might seem low, according to Brian O'Neill, president of IIHS, "impacts into rigid objects such as poles or trees at 18 mph are, in fact, very severe." After the test O'Neill observed, "these tests demonstrate that people can survive serious side impact crashes in the real world because head airbags prevent their heads from striking rigid objects." He went on to note that, "side airbags with head protection represent a very important safety development that will save lives and prevent major head trauma in a range of serious side impact crashes." Nearly 10,000 deaths occur each year in side impact crashes, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and more than half of these deaths involve head injuries. Thirty eight percent of single-vehicle side impact crash deaths occur when vehicles strike trees or poles on the dead occupants' side. In two-vehicle side impact crashes, 38 percent of car occupant deaths occur when a pickup or SUV strikes the car. "At BMW, we are very dedicated to the safety and well-being of everyone who rides in our vehicles," said Tom Purves, chairman of BMW US Holding Corp., "which is why BMW was the first manufacturer to offer a head protection system in our automobiles and first again in a light truck. We are pleased that in side impact tests conducted twice by the Institute, BMW's HPS has proven itself to be so effective." The benefit of BMW's HPS was first demonstrated by the IIHS in 1998 in a side impact test of an HPS-equipped BMW 5 Series. After that test the International Brain Injury Association awarded BMW its "Safe Car of the Millennium" in recognition of the BMW Head Protection System. This is the second recent crash of the X5 performed by the IIHS. In a recent 40 mph frontal offset crash test, a BMW X5 not only achieved the best results of any SUV ever tested by the Institute, but the best results of any vehicle they had tested to date. About BMW of North America BMW of North America, Inc. was established in 1975. Since then, the company has grown to include marketing, sales and financial service organizations in the United States; a South Carolina manufacturing operation; DESIGNWORKS/USA, an industrial design firm in California; a technology office in Palo Alto and various other operations throughout the country. BMW is represented in the U.S. through a network of more than 340 car, 315 sports activity vehicle and 160 motorcycle retailers. BMW US Holding Corp., the group's headquarters for North, Central and South America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. For more information, visit