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Do you know what kind of windows your car has? Some could put your life at risk, AAA says

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If your car ends up in a canal, what’s your escape plan?

If it’s getting out through the window, you might want to double check that, according to AAA.

New research conducted by the motor club federation discovered that six commonly used seat belt cutting and window breaking tools weren’t able to break through laminated glass, which is what some newer car models are being made with to meet federal safety standards aimed at reducing ejections in high-speed collisions.

The glass won’t shatter, even when cracked. This also lessens the risk of injury by flying glass.

The glass is typically used for windshields, but one in three 2018 models now have laminated side windows instead of tempered windows, which tends to shatter once its cracked, according to the study.

During their testing, the association used three spring-loaded and three hammer styles for their tests. While four of the tested tools were able to shatter tempered glass, none of them were able to break the laminated glass, even after it cracked.

The spring-loaded tools were also more effective in breaking the tempered windows than the hammer-style.

A majority of vehicles still have at least one tempered glass window, according to John Nielsen, managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair for AAA.

“Our research found that generally vehicle escape tools can be effective in an emergency, but only if drivers know what type of side windows they have, otherwise they could waste precious seconds trying to break glass that will not shatter,” Nielsen said in a news release.

How can drivers make an emergency escape plan?

Identify what type of windows your vehicle has.

This information can typically be found on a label located in the bottom corner of the side window, which should indicate whether the glass is tempered or laminated. You can also refer to AAA’s list of car models with laminated non-windshield windows.

window label.PNG
A label, like the one pictured, can typically be found in the bottom corner of the side window. This label should indicate whether the glass is tempered or laminated. American Automobile Association

If you can’t find the label or see your car in the list, contact the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Learn if your vehicle has a mixture of auto glass. Rear side windows may be tempered glass, for example, while your front side windows may be laminated. Once you know this information, you can identify which windows are breakable.

Make sure you have at least one spring-loaded or hammer-style tool readily accessible inside the car. Remember, you need to break a tempered glass window, not a laminated window.

It’s also recommended that you test the tool ahead of time. AAA recommends you use it on a softer surface, like a piece of soft wood. If the tip impacts the surface and leaves a small indent in the material, it works.

Once you’ve done this, you can identify what window is your main escape plan and what your back-up options are. It’s also recommended that you inform your passengers of the plan to avoid confusion during the emergency.

What should you do if you get trapped inside your car?

Stay calm. While it’s easier said then done, every second counts. Take a deep breath and start working cautiously. The goal is to get everyone out quickly and safely.

Unbuckle the seat belts of everyone that’s in the car. If someone can’t get there seat belt off, you can use your escape tool to cut them free.

Roll down or break a window.

If you find yourself unable to open or break a window because it’s laminated, everyone in the car should look for an air pocket. This is typically in the back of the vehicle. Stay there until the air has left. Once this happens, you should be able to open a door and escape.

Be extra cautious if the car is submerged. Once the window opens, water will rush into the car. If your car is submerged, use a spring-loaded style tool. A hammer-style tool could be harder to swing underwater.

Call 911. If the vehicle is sinking or on fire, you should try to escape first, according to AAA.

The process of rescuing victims if they get trapped after a car crash can be difficult. This is how firefighters do it.

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