How to Escape Your Car If the Electronic Door Handle Fails

All modern cars have child safety door locks that, when activated, prevent the rear doors from being opened from inside the vehicle. They’re designed to keep kids from opening the rear doors, but the safety feature can lead to rear-seat occupants being unable to open the doors in an emergency. (Your car’s owner’s manual will tell you how to disengage these locks if you want occupants to be able to open the rear doors from inside the vehicle. They’re usually engaged and disengaged via a toggle in a slot on the inside of the car door or doorjamb.)

According to the safety advocacy group Kids and Cars, if the rear doors don’t open from inside the car, rear-seat passengers should use the front doors to exit a vehicle in an emergency. If that’s not possible, they should turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights, honk the horn, or otherwise try to make themselves visible to passers-by.

Some vehicles with electronic interior door releases—including the Tesla Model Y and Model 3—don’t have a manual rear door release. Others have more complex ones. In a Tesla Model X with nonfunctioning powered rear “falcon” doors, you must first remove a speaker grille before pulling on a release cable.