When Is The Optimal Time To Jump Out Of A Car If You're Being Kidnapped?

Illustration for article titled When Is The Optimal Time To Jump Out Of A Car If Youre Being Kidnapped?

Before I fall asleep at night, I try to soothe my fried nerves with calming thoughts regarding completely batshit insane situations. Most recently, it was about being kidnapped in a car. What then?


So, here’s the scene: you’re being kidnapped or taken against your will and you’re forced into a car. Luckily, though, your captors haven’t tied you up and you are actually able to jump out of the vehicle. When is the optimal time to do so?

Personally, I had reason to believe that in a turn would be most ideal, since you generally have to slow down to take a turn. To get to the bottom of this, I enlisted the help of David Tracy, who is an actual smart person and understands, like, physics and shit. David drew me a picture:

Illustration/image credit: David Tracy
Illustration/image credit: David Tracy

“When you’re turning, your velocity points tangentially,” he explained. “Let’s say you’re driving at 60 mph. You hit the brakes down to 30 during the turn. And hold 30 for that turn. Then accelerate back up to 60 (starting at A, going to B in the image above).

“If you jump out of the car anywhere between the start and finish of that turn, you’ll still be doing 30 mph when you jump out. It’s just that you’ll be flying away from the road. Which, if there’s grass, could be a good thing. What kills you is your velocity (well, technically, the change in your velocity over time, but in our case, if we assume we’re going to hit the same surface, what matters is velocity—this means, anywhere between turn entry and turn exit would be the same). If there’s grass next to the road, the turn might be the right place to jump out.”

But it also depends on how your captor is driving. Do they actually slow down between turn entry and exit? If so, perhaps jumping out right before the second straight would be ideal. If they hold velocity, then anywhere in the turn would work.

“Basically,” David concluded, “jump out wherever velocity is least. Whether it’s in a turn doesn’t matter so much unless you really want to jump into grass—then do it during the turn.”


Of course, this is all hypothetical. This is for a life-or-death situation. We don’t recommend you jump from a moving car, ever.

What do you guys think? Do you agree with us or do you have other wisdom to share?

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.

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David Tracy

Tecccchnically I should have said “when the speed is least” or “when the velocity is closest to zero.”

Because “when velocity is least” could be when the car is in reverse depending on the coordinate system.

^This clarification is only going to matter to that ONE enginerd out there who’s got too much time on his/her hands. But anyway...