Skip to main content

Is it safer to drive with the doors locked or unlocked?

I don't think it's safe to drive with the doors locked because you'll be trapped in a burning car if there's an accident. You won't be able to get out and rescue workers won't be able to get in. My husband disagrees with me. We have a Ford Edge and the doors lock automatically once you start driving. I always unlock them. — Karen, Ottawa

If you're driving with unlocked doors, you never know who'll try to get in — or out, police say.

"There've been incidents where doors have gone open while the vehicle was in motion because a child pulled on the handle," says Ottawa Police Const. Chuck Benoit. "There've also been incidents of forcible confinement — where a person enters the vehicle while you're stopped or driving slowly in traffic and takes over."

Story continues below advertisement

It's a good idea to drive with doors locked, police say.

"We recommend it," Benoit says. "But there's no rule or law that says you have to."

Ford Canada says automatic locking is a safety feature. If it's turned on, doors will lock when you're driving faster than 20 km/h.

"The locks will unlock when the driver's door is opened," says spokesperson Rose Pao in an email. "In the event of an accident where air bags are deployed, the door locks will unlock automatically."

In a car crash, the doors need to stay closed because they absorb the impact, keep you from being thrown out, and help keep the roof from crumpling like a soda can. Locks might help, police say.

"If the vehicle does roll over, the lock is a secondary means to ensure that the door stays closed," says Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Peter Leon.

And, even if you're driving with unlocked doors, you could still be trapped in a crash anyway.

Story continues below advertisement

"When there's an impact, a lot of time the doors are pushed in and don't open," says Ottawa Police's Benoit. "Whether they were locked or unlocked, the impact damaged the door and made it jam anyway."

Rescue workers will have to get you out — or you'll have to break out yourself.

"There are glass-breaking tools available, automotive companies carry them, and they'll break the glass very easily," says Leon. "They do come with a cutting blade that would let you cut your seatbelt if you needed to."

In the movies, most car crashes end in a deadly blaze, but U.S. statistics show that only about four per cent of motor vehicle deaths happen in fires, says the Canada Safety Council.

"Being trapped in a burning car is certainly a very vivid thing to worry about," Safety Council spokesperson Lynn Lau says in an email. "But (it's) an exceedingly unlikely catastrophe."

aiming higher."

Story continues below advertisement

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Instagram

Add us to your circles

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter