Exiting An Overturned Vehicle

If you do find yourself in a situation where your vehicle has rolled and is laying on the top of the vehicle, there are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to safely enter the vehicle. We are assuming that you and the other occcupants were restrained using seatbelts or restraint harnesses and that all gear and equipment has been secured prior to the rollover.

Prior to hitting the trails, you should be familiar with how to work the seatbelt release and door handle. Have you ever jumped in someone else’s vehicle and when it came time to exit the vehicle you reached down to grab the handle only to find out that it is in a different location? Because you had got used to exiting your vehicle, you had built up muscle memory which led your hand the position of “your” door handle which you were quick to find out is not the right location in this vehicle.

If you think that knowing how to exit a vehicle that rolled over does not apply to you, hopefully you are correct. If you search youtube for rollover videos, you may realize that it could happen to anyone. Here is a good video that shows various rollovers.

When you find yourself in an overturned vehicle, your adrenaline will be pumping, you may be extremely nervous, shaking, scared and it could be dark. You will feel disoriented and you may not have a lot of time to exit the vehicle. You need to ensure that you are aware of how to unbuckle the seat belt and where and how to use the door handles to exit the vehicle.

Is everyone OK?

When the vehicle has stopped moving, you or someone in the vehicle should verbally ask if everyone is ok. If someone knows that they have injuries to the neck, spine or other parts of the body, it may not be safe for them to exit the vehicle on their own power or at all. Emergency Medical Services should be contacted for assistance.

Bracing for the drop

When you are belted or restrained in an overturned vehicle, you will likely find that you are raised above the inside roof of the vehicle which is now in contact with the ground. If you were to suddenly release your seatbelt or restraint, you would quickly drop down and put all your weight on your neck as you impacted the ceiling (of the overturned vehicle). To lessen the “fall”, you should brace yourself with an arm against the ceiling so that you can help to slowly lower yourself down.

Some doors may not open

Vehicle damage from the rollover may keep some doors from opening. Each occupant of the vehicle should attempt to open their door. When a door is found to open, it should be announced to all occupants. This will allow other occupants to exit through that door if needed.

Assist other occupants

When you are able to safely exit the vehicle, you need to assist other occupants with exiting.


Rollovers are extremely dangerous and can be deadly. Even slow rollovers can cause bodily harm as body parts are hit against interior portions of the vehicle or are impacted by loose items tossed around within the vehicle. It is extremely important that equipment, tools and other gear be secured in the vehicle. loose equipment will be tossed around the inside of a vehicle as the vehicle rolls over. These loose items can cause serious injury to the occupants. You can read more about securing items in your vehicle here.