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in: Cars, Featured, Manly Skills, Survival, Visual Guides

February 28, 2019 Last updated: March 11, 2020

How to Escape a Car Hanging Off a Cliff

The image of a car dangling over a cliff is one of Hollywood’s favorite go-to moments of suspense. In real life, finding yourself in that situation is quite a bit rarer, but it’s certainly not unheard of. When you consider the number of human-made “cliffs” like highway overpasses and bridges, there are ample opportunities for a basic fender bender to turn into a serious cliffhanger. If you find yourself behind the wheel of a precariously positioned car, the key is to avoid any sudden movements and plan your route of escape with everyone else in the vehicle. Be aware that opening doors shifts a significant amount of weight toward the front of the car, so take caution before immediately bailing out. With that in mind, here’s how to get out alive.

1: Prepare to move. If the car is moving/sliding, you’ll need to execute these steps quickly but smoothly.

2: If front doors are over solid ground, escape that way, using the window if it seems that opening the door would shift too much weight.

3: If front doors are hanging over cliff, set parking brake (which locks the rear wheels), turn off engine, and unbuckle seatbelt.

4: Gently shift any available weight, like bags, to the rear.

5: Slowly recline your seat as far back as it will go, and move to the back of the vehicle.

6: Exit through the back door if possible, or rear window/windshield if needed (use a screwdriver or escape tool to break glass).

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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