1. Your car is on fire.
If there’s smoke coming from under your hood, pull over immediately, turn off the engine and get out.
Resist any instinct to open the hood. “If it’s a fire and not just smoke, adding oxygen will only intensify it,” says Lauren Fix, author of Driving Ambitions: A Complete Guide to Amateur Auto Racing.
Also, there’s not much you can do to fix the situation. “If your wires are smoking under the hood, your car is already toast,” says Rick Seaman of the Rick Seaman Stunt Driving School, who’s done stunts in The Amazing Spider-Man, Catch Me If You Can, and Charlie’s Angels.
Your best course of action is get as far away as you can. “It’s rare, but the gas tank could explode,” he says. “If you left your wallet in the front seat, too bad.”
2. Your car went off the road and flipped. You’re upside down, but conscious and seemingly unharmed.
What next? The first mistake is taking off your seatbelt too quickly.
“Brace yourself for the fall,” says Hubie Kerns, co-founder of the Driver’s Inc stunt-driving school and a member of the Stuntman’s Association. “Press your right arm or elbow against the ceiling, which is easier than it sounds because you’ll probably be freaking out.”
Whatever you do, don’t stay hanging upside down. “I knew one stunt guy who got a concussion and he was knocked out during a flip and they left him hanging upside down for like 20 minutes before they pulled him out,” Kerns says. “Well, all the blood rushed to his head, which is terrible for a concussion. He stayed unconscious for a month.”
Once you’re safely on the ground, try opening the doors. If they’re jammed shut and the windows won’t open, it’s time to find your phone and call 995.
If that’s not possible, sit tight and wait.
3. You’re on a collision course with a confused driver.
You’re driving down a two-lane road. You see another car heading towards you, and it’s drifting into your lane.
Your first impulse may be to swerve to avoid a collision. Ignore this impulse.
“Swerving is not good at all,” says Kerns, who’s done stunts for movies like The Long Goodbye, The Buccaneer, and Spartacus.
If you’re not 100% certain what’s directly next to your car, “you may end up causing an even bigger wreck.”
Or worse, you could spin out of control. “That’s why we do sudden swerves in the movies, for the big spin,” he says.
He recommends a far less dramatic reaction. “Slide over to the edge of your lane and slowly put on the brake,” he says.
4. Your car has ended up in a body of water.
If your windows aren’t already open, roll them down before the electricity gives out.
If the power’s gone and the windows won’t budge, hopefully you remembered to plan ahead. “You need a gadget called an automatic punch, available in any hardware store,” says Seaman, who’s performed driving stunts for stars like Vin Diesel, Burt Reynolds and Bruce Willis.
They come in a variety of sizes, but he suggests 3/8th-of-an-inch. “It’s the size of a pen, so you can just keep it in your glove compartment,” he says.
When your car goes under, just hold the spring-loaded mechanism against the window and wait for a click. “With moderate arm strength, the window will just explode,” Seaman says. Then start swimming.
By: Eric Spitznagel