According to a 2011 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida leads the nation in auto accident drowning deaths with an average of 57 per year. Texas was a distant second. The Orlando Sentinel recently used more up-to-date data to confirm that Florida still leads the nation.
Joe Santos, safety engineer for the Florida Department of transportation, was unaware that more car accident drownings occur in Florida than any other state. However, he speculated that the reason was most likely the fact that Florida has more water near roads than other states. In fact, state and local environmental rules actually require road builders to place retention ponds near some roadways.
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Of course, the best way to prevent such a death is to avoid the auto accident all together. However, if you find yourself in a car that has just entered the water, experts say you have about a minute to save your own life. And contrary to popular belief, trying to open the car door will usually not work. There is simply too much water pressure against the door for most people to open it. Furthermore, if you do get the door open as the car is filling up, so much water will enter the vehicle that it will make it harder to get out.
Don’t panic and do not try to call 911. There simply is not enough time to make the call. At this point, your life is in your own hands. Undo your seatbelt and try to open the car window. Although the limited amount of time wasted on this step makes it worth trying, more than likely the water will short out the electrical system making the window impossible to open as intended. If opening the car window does not work, then your best hope is to break it. To ensure you will be able to break the window you should carry a car glass breaking tool in the car such as a Life Hammer. You will have to break the car glass before the water gets to the level of the windows, usually 30 seconds to a minute. At that point the water pressure will make it next to impossible to break the window.
If you do not get the window open or break the glass in time, your last chance is to wait for the water to fill the car completely up and hold your breath. At that point, the pressure inside the car will equalize with the pressure outside the car and you should be able to open the door and swim to safety.