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How To Survive a Collapsing Bridge

Plunging off a bridge doesn't sound like an accident you could walk away from. But you can -- if you know what to do.


  • Step 1: Unless you're a strong swimmer and the shore is very close, tread water until help arrives. Otherwise, you may exhaust yourself trying to get to land.
  • FACT: About 50 vehicles tumbled into the Mississippi River in 2007 when the I-35W bridge collapsed, but only 13 people died.
  • Step 2: When the water is up to your shoulders, take a very deep breath, push the door open, and swim to the surface
  • TIP: Take slow, deep breaths while you're waiting; it will help calm you down.
  • Step 3: Try not to panic: because your car entered the water in a nosedive, you'll immediately be immersed in water. But your battery may still work for a minute or two, so try to unlock the doors.
  • Step 4: Sit tight. You'll have to wait until water enters the car before you will be able to push the door open.
  • Step 5: Keep your seat belt on until the impact is over. Make sure no other car or other object is heading your way before unbuckling yourself.

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