You and a friend are driving back from a hike. The road is twisty and you’re going downhill. You come around a curve and there’s a rock in the middle of your path. Panicking, you swerve around it. But you swerve too fast and too far, and now you don’t have control of your car. It breaks through the guardrails and comes to a sudden stop.Here’s How to Survive a car hanging off a cliff.

You’ve just had a run-off-road, or ROR, crash. Out of the 3 million people a year that are injured in car accidents, ROR crashes make up a large portion of fatalities and serious injuries. Take Matthew Sitko, who in 2015 careened off a cliff in Lewiston, Idaho. Luckily for him, Jason Warnock spotted his SUV dangerously teetering off the 9 meter (30 foot) cliff from below. Warnock quickly came to Sitko’s rescue. He was able to convince the disoriented man to roll down the passenger window. Warnock grabbed Sitko’s arm and pulled him out of the dangling vehicle to safety.

But what should you do if no one is there to help you? Is it better to exit through the front or back? How do you break a car window?


Step 1: Calmly Check the Severity

Take a deep breath and orient yourself. If your vehicle is stable and you’re in a populated area, then you should stay put. Someone will notice you soon, if they haven’t already, and help will be on the way. If help is not available, or your vehicle is moving, then you need to exit the car.

Step 2: Move Slowly

Whatever you do, move cautiously and slowly. It’s also important to keep the car balanced to avoid any further shifting. So if there are multiple people in the car, you need to exit on opposite sides at the same time. Your priority is making sure that the car doesn’t lose the precarious grip it has on that cliff.

Step 3: Exit Through the Front

If the front doors are over land, then this is your best bet. Slowly open the front door and cautiously escape the car. Remember to coordinate your movement with your buddy to keep the car balanced.


Step 4: Exit Through the Back

Okay, so the front doors are not an option. You’re going to have to exit through the back doors. First, carefully recline your front seat. Now slowly crawl over that front seat to get to the back seat. Open the back door and escape the dangling death trap.

Step 5: Exit Through a Window

So, you can’t exit through the doors at all. That’s too bad. Your next best option? Any windows. Front, back, side, whichever ones are safely over land. If lowering the window isn’t possible, then you’re going to have to break it.

Step 6: Break a Window

This would be a great time to have a handy vehicle escape tool within reach. But if you don’t, then use your headrest. Detach it from its seat, aim the metal prongs at the center of the car window and smash it. Knock away any sharp, lingering glass from the window frame before scrambling through.

Now you and your friend are out of the car and are once again safely on solid ground. Except it seems your car has landed on a ledge below the road and there’s no way back up. Basically, you’re stranded, and it might take a while before anyone drives by and notices you.


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