Know what type of windows you have.
Most safety plans involve breaking a window to create an escape route. The problem? This is easier said than done since auto glass is built to withstand impacts. According to VanWynsberghe, all vehicles on the road today have two kinds of windows: tempered and laminated. The study found that many escape tools were able to break tempered windows, but none was able to penetrate laminated glass.
Naturally, then, it pays to know what types of windows you have and where.
Even if your car has side windows made of laminated glass, for instance, the rear window may be tempered. It just depends on the type of vehicle. Thankfully, according to VanWynsberghe, almost all vehicles on the road today have tempered glass somewhere. Drivers can determine the type of glass in each window by checking for a label in the bottom corner. If this information is not included or there is no label at all, AAA advises contacting the vehicle manufacturer.
“It shouldn’t be too difficult to track down what kind of glass you have,” says VanWynsberghe. “That becomes valuable information in helping you formulate an escape plan.”
Know which tools to buy.
The study concluded that, contrary to popular belief, headrests are not very good at breaking automobile windows, laminated glass or tempered. Other hard objects, including rocks and cell phones, are also unlikely to be effective. A reliable vehicle escape tool is best.
Most vehicle escape tools come in one of two forms: spring-loaded and hammer style. Spring-loaded tools stand the best chance of working under all conditions; whereas hammers can be challenging to use underwater and are less effective on tempered glass.
Many tools also have the added benefit of seatbelt-cutters to simplify getting out of a seatbelt in the event of a crash.
VanWynsberghe notes that several escape tools have other bells and whistles too, such as LED flashlights, knives, or USB chargers. He said that while these functions can be helpful in certain situations, they do not improve the performance of the tools themselves, and therefore are non-essential.
“With an escape tool, all that matters is, ‘Will it break the glass so I can get out?’” he says.