RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A man who spent his professional career pushing automakers into improving safety found those improvements saved his life during a wrong-way car crash.

It was a horrendous crash at 65 mph when a wrong-way driver on Interstate 95 just outside of Washington, D.C., slammed into Adrian Lund’s car.

“Considering the crash I was in, a frontal followed by a rollover, I’m pretty lucky,” said Lund. “The car did its job.”

For decades, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has tried to create tests that force automakers to improve safety features.

“We figure if the government is doing it, we don’t need to do the same thing,” said IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby. “Let’s push manufacturers to go beyond what the government is requiring them to do.”

Lund spent 30 years at the IIHS, serving as president from 2006 to 2017.

“This was a high-speed crash,” said Lund. “Probably 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be here to talk about it.”

During his last 20 years at the institute, his focus was on how to get cars to provide better protection in crashes.

“What you’re trying to do is create a crash test that will test the kinds of things that need to work in a real-world crash,” said Lund.

He said he doesn’t remember his wreck, only awakening upside down in his car.

“When you’re hanging upside down, the first thing I did was to see if it could move my legs,” Lund said

The car’s crumple zone had protected his legs from breaking and other safety features prevented a spinal cord or other back injuries.

As rescue crews swarmed about his tipped-over BMW 540i, Lund recalled thinking, “This is what we were after. There’s room here,” he said. “In crashes like this, you don’t come out uninjured.”

That 2020 model BMW has earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick award in six crashworthiness tests including small overlap front crash and roof strength.

The driver of the wrong-way vehicle who hit Lund was operating a 2016 BMW 228i, according to police reports.

The 29-year-old woman died because police say, she was not wearing her seat belt and was thrown from her vehicle during the crash.