With hurricane season starting soon, Floridians have to start preparing
for the much dreaded negative side effects of the sunshine state. An average
of 100 people die in floods yearly, with 60% of them occurring in vehicles.
These deaths could be avoided with new regulations on safety standards.
In case of a vehicle submersion, the best escape route varies depending
on the level of submersion.
In the first two minutes of the car hitting water, while it is still floating,
exiting through the side window is the best option, but the time span
the power windows remain functional varies significantly depending on
the car model and manufacturer. If the power windows no longer work breaking
the glass is the next best option. Do not open the door, it would only
accelerate the influx of water and make it harder to exit the vehicle.
After the car has fully been submerged, the pressure on the outside of
the vehicle is much greater than on the inside, increasing the force needed
to break the windows or open the doors. Safety standards that have been
put in place to prevent people from being ejected during a crash make
the windows almost impossible to break without a rescue tool which most
drivers do not have. In other markets, automotive companies have voluntarily
implemented a “submarine” power window requirement that keeps
power windows operable during submersion.
U.S. legislature does not yet have specific guidelines for vehicle escape-worthiness.
There are different methods to improve the chances of people surviving
a submersion event including waterproof power window switches; a remote
power source to the windows; power window submersion sensors that automatically
reverse the windows upon submersion; and a manual auxiliary window operation.