Open The Door Of A Sinking Car

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Seasickness: Underwater Car".


Explanation: AAA estimates that, every year, more than 10,000 drivers swerve off the road and end up submerged in water. This terrifying scenario can be life-threatening, as the water pressure exerted against a sinking auto makes it extremely difficult to open a door and swim to safety.

MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage took the plunge to verify the scientific logic that until a car completely fills with water and equalizes the pressure inside and out, it is physically impossible to open a door.

To replicate the submerged-car scenario, Jamie and Adam hopped into an old sedan and were gently dropped into a 13-foot-deep swimming pool. Adam's job was to try to open the driver's side door, while Jamie — outfitted with a rebreather — perched comfortably in the backseat and monitored the vehicle's air supply. As suspected, the water pressure differential between the inside and outside of the cabin was simply too great for Adam to pry open the driver's side door.

But once the sinking sedan had filled to the brim, the pressure difference stabilized, allowing the door latch to release. Although Adam eventually was able to get out, he had to resort to a backup air supply before he made a break.

The final analysis: A sinking car is indeed a tough nut to crack. That may spell bad news for unlucky drivers, but it's a point won for the confirmed myth.

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