So I just ran off the road and into a deep pond. . . Now what?

I know the basics of how I’d theoretically escape, but some questions:

Will my electrical system still be working to roll down a window, or will I need to break it out?

If I have to break it out, what would be the best way? I’d think that it’s pretty hard to swing a hammer once the interior is flooded enough to make an escape.

Would I be better off trying to open a door(assuming at this time the interior is mostly flooded)?

About how long will I have? It would seem that at a certain point, there might still be air in the car, but, depending upon the depth, I might be too deep to hold my breath long enough to float to the surface.

Mythbusters answered many of your questions:

Mythbusters did this one in episode 72:

They do sell hammers specifically for this application. I bought one… but keep forgetting that it’s still in the bag in the trunk. D’oh! The one I got also has a special knife in case you can’t get out of your seatbelt, also. Not a bad thing to keep in your center console - so you feel like a weenie driving it around, but if you need it…

Need answer fast?

I call bullshit that a window can’t be broken by kicking it. Side and rear windows are designed to fragment when struck. I’ve busted windows out with my bare hands and I’m sure they can be kicked out.

Suicide rather than drowning? :eek:

You’d probalby loose that bet and drown. It’s not at all easy to get the necessary momentum with your foot while under water, and there’s also a whole lot of water pushing in on the glass to reinforce it.

If you know you’re about to plunge into water, roll down the window while the electrics are still working or open the door. If you wait until the car is in the water, you’ll have to wait until the car is almost completely filled with water before you’ll be able to open the door,


If I know I’m about to plunge into water? I think if I had enough time to know I’m about to go into the water, then I’d have enough time to probably stop myself, or turn away, or something.

I would wager that only in a very, very, very small percentage of the time is a car going to be in a scenario where the driver has enough time to think about what to do, but at the same time also cannot stop or turn the car out of the way. I mean, the car’s regular brakes AND emergency/parking brake would have to be busted, AND it would have to have so much momentum that turning off the engine and putting it into neutral wouldn’t slow it down enough to at least turn out of the way.

But yeah, you should keep a tool designed to smash the window out in the center console or glovebox. Not just for going into water, but if you’re in an accident and the door can’t be opened, and you don’t have time to wait for rescue workers (car’s on fire, swarm of bees chasing you, imminent zombie attack, etc…)

Well, whatever you do don’t forget the girl.

The basics would tell you to swim hard for the surface because you probably will not float. The hardest thing may be determining “UP” The Navy pilots are trained to follow their bubbles. and that may mean to feel what direction they are going.
Your life will depend on how well you can control panic.

There is a good possibility that the electric windows will still operate.

I think he means when you drive into the water, you’ll float for at least a few seconds while the car fills up. Presumably the car, being full of air, doesn’t just sink like a rock, unless you drove off a sheer cliff and dived in nose first or something.

…and you’re posting on the SDMB?

I knew this place was addictive, but…

This YouTube video of a rally “incident” might give you some clue what to expect. Only, in this case, the water wasn’t that deep and didn’t fill the entire car, so the occupants were lucky.

(I’ve watched this clip on several occasions, but it still scares the crap out of me!)

There is a handy, pen sized device you can buy for $5 or so at any well stocked hardware store. It is called a Automatic Center Punch

It will break a car window quickly and easily (even under water).

Put one in your glovebox witha utility knife (for jammed seat belts)


The motor for a lot of car windows is about half way up the door. Once you hit the water you might have until the water reaches the mid point to roll down your window. I remember hearing a 911 call where a woman was in a sinking car and the operator kept telling her to roll down her window quickly, but she was too scared to do so and she died.

Some random thoughts:

Vehicles don’t sink very fast and water won’t instantly kill electronics unless it’s salt water. So assuming you’re in a fairly upright position, you should be able to roll the window down and get out before the water gets over the window. After that, you’re probably better off waiting for the interior to flood.

One of the best ways to break a window is to put the tip of a knife against it and smack it with your hand. Anything with a sharp point will work. That’s really all those emergency gadgets are, hammers or punches with sharp points.

I only mention that because your emergency gadget will end up under your seat or lost in some other location and you’re going to be rummaging through your glovebox in an adrenaline fueled panic, tossing knives and screwdrivers to the side saying “Where’s my fancy little escape gadget?” If that happens, take a deep breath and use what ya got, MacGyver.

If you have tinted windows (not factory tint), the tint will probably hold a shattered window in place enough to frustrate any escape. You can still kick or push the glass out but you’re going to have some work to do and will get cut up in the process.

We’ve had 2 separate incidences where cars exiting a highway continued right (into a pond) instead of following the road. It may be a case of driving where you expect the road to be, I don’t know. Anyway, they plunged into ponds that were near the road. You’d have plenty of time to roll a window down if this happened.

I don’t see how additional pressure against a window enhances the crystaline structure of the glass. What it will do is burst forth once broken with the weight/pressure of the water.

I agree with your plan to roll the window down before the car sinks. Much easier all around than having a bunch of glass fly into your face with a rush of water behind it.

It can be much, much harder to break modern vehicle glass than you think, Magiver.



Here’s a highlight

An older car with more fragile glass, maybe, but you are not necessarily going to be able to kick the glass out.