AAA: Vehicle escape tools effective in breaking tempered side windows, but not laminated

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (July 16, 2019) – If you ever need to escape your car, a new AAA study on vehicle escape tools reveals which ones work best — and the type of windows in your vehicle matter more than you might think.

In its latest study, AAA tested a random variety of vehicle escape tools – designed to aid passengers during a road emergency where they’re unable to exit their vehicles normally – to find out their effectiveness in breaking tempered and laminated vehicle side windows. AAA tested six tools (three spring-loaded and three hammer-style) and found four shattered the tempered glass and none were able to break the laminated glass. View report for full results.

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“To improve safety, more vehicles are being equipped with laminated side windows – but typically those vehicles also have at least one window made of tempered glass,” said Michael Blasky, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. “The AAA research found vehicle escape tools can be effective in an emergency, but more so if drivers know what type of side windows they have.”

Identifying the type of glass in your vehicle
Labels like those above are located on the bottom corner of vehicle side windows and should state if the glass is tempered or laminated. If not, AAA advises contacting the vehicle manufacturer. The type of glass may vary throughout the vehicle.

Being prepared in an emergency will greatly improve your ability to stay safe. AAA strongly recommends drivers do the following:

Prepare ahead of time:
·       Memorize the type of glass the vehicle windows are made of – tempered or laminated. Only tempered glass can be broken with standard escape tools.
·       Keep the escape tool in a safe, accessible place. Ensure it works properly by testing it ahead of time on a softer surface such as a piece of soft wood. The tool works if the tip strikes the surface and leaves a small indent in the material.
·       Plan an exit strategy with everyone in the car. Also, have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.

If trapped in a vehicle, remember there is a S-U-R-E way out:
·       Stay calm. While time is of the essence – work cautiously to ensure everyone safely exits the vehicle.
·       Unbuckle seat belts and check to see that everyone is ready to leave the car when it’s time.
·       Roll down or break a window – remember if the car is sinking in water, once the window is open the water will rush into the car at a faster rate. If the window will not open and the car has tempered glass, use an escape tool to break a side window to escape. Drivers should also remember that:
o   If a window will not open or cannot be broken because it is laminated, everyone should move to the back of the vehicle or wherever an air pocket is located. Stay with it until all of the air has left the vehicle. Once this happens, the pressure should equalize, allowing occupants to open a door and escape.
o   If the vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool (as opposed to a spring-loaded-style) could be much harder to swing underwater.
·       Exit the vehicle quickly and move everyone to safety.
·   Call 911 – while this is typically the first step in an emergency, if a vehicle has hit the water or is on fire, it is best to try to escape first.

Methodology
For testing methodology, refer to the full report by clicking here.