Three spring-loaded and three hammer-style vehicle escape tools failed to successfully break laminated glass windows when recently tested by AAA.
Four of the six tools — three spring-loaded and one hammer-style — were successful in breaking tempered glass during the same testing, while two hammer-style tools were not.
The recent evaluations were designed to determine whether or not drivers and passengers can escape via a side window of an average vehicle in the event it ignites or ends up submerged in water.
While the majority of vehicle side windows are still made from tempered glass, which shatters when broken, an increasing number are being designed with laminated side windows, notes AAA.
The recent testing of the six typical escape tools indicates that motorists are at risk of being trapped in their vehicles, especially if the windows are made of laminated glass.
In 2017 alone, there were nearly 21,000 crashes in which a vehicle caught fire or was partially or fully submerged in water in the U.S, resulting in 1,800 fatalities. Accidents like these are fatal if occupants are trapped and unable to exit their vehicle.
AAA urges drivers to know what type of side window glass is installed on their vehicle, keep a secure and easily accessible escape tool in their car and have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.
To determine the type of glass installed on a vehicle, look for a label located in the bottom corner of the side window, which should indicate whether the glass is tempered or laminated. If this information is not included, AAA advises contacting the vehicle manufacturer.
Drivers should also be aware that some vehicles are outfitted with different glass at varying locations in the car. For example, rear side windows may be made with tempered glass while front side windows are made of laminated glass.
The increased use of laminated glass is in response to federal safety standards aimed at reducing occupant ejections in high-speed collisions. In 2017, there were an estimated 21,400 people who were partially or fully ejected during a crash, resulting in 11,200 injuries and 5,053 deaths.