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Australia Wants to Make Your Car Easier to Escape in a Flood

Car partially submerged at the base of a wooded slope
Oopsie.
Ron Bailey/Getty Images

What's happening

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) will implement new safety regulations making cars easier to escape in a flood.

Why it matters

The rules would require a car's power windows to remain operational for 10 minutes after going under water, making it easier for occupants to escape or rescue workers to get in.

What's next

ANCAP's new rules go into effect in 2023.

There's a pretty simple rule of thumb to follow when it comes to driving in floods: If the water looks too deep, it is too deep. Nevertheless, heavy storms can bring flash floods out of nowhere, and the fine folks of Australia want to make it easier for you to escape your car should it suddenly become submerged.

A report from Autocar New Zealand this week, brought to our attention by Jalopnik, says the Australasian New Car Assessment Program will soon implement new rules for its safety testing regimen that specifically address a car's flood-readiness. Carmakers must now "demonstrate how their new vehicles can allow occupants to more easily escape a submerged vehicle, or rescuers to access trapped occupants," ANCAP said, according to Autocar NZ.

For starters, all cars with electronic door handles must have some sort of manual failsafe allowing them to be opened without battery power. That's already pretty commonplace, but more interesting is ANCAP's mandate that a car's power windows remain functional for up to 10 minutes after a car goes underwater.

If a carmaker can't provide proof that a vehicle's power windows function after submergence, the company will be required to provide a way for occupants to break the side windows. This could be a mechanical shattering system, hammer or -- seriously -- explosives.

Given Australia's heavy rainfall and its position relative to sea level, flooding is a big issue for our friends Down Under. However, with climate change and global warming a known threat, other continents around the world could benefit from similar safety measures. Perhaps Australia will point the way forward.

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