Cars Dont Explode

Why is it the everytime a vehicle is involved in a collision or accident of some sort in 'the movies' it explodes?

Are we all driving around in the equivalent of a petrol bomb just waiting for that opportunity to blow up?


The reason for Hollywood cars exploding is all in the name of action, excitement and drama. The vehicles are specifically rigged to explode by the visual effects specialists. Away from the movie sets, there are literally hunderds of accidents a day throughout Australia and thousands if not tens of thousands of motor vehicle accidents around the world every day. Many of them at high speed or involving incredible impact and instances of vehicles exploding on impact is rare. Yes it can happen, and it is usually the result of such a catastrophic impact that the car is literally torn apart causing the fuel tank to rupture and fuel to come in contact with an ingnition source.

For the majority of the motoring public being involved in an accident, even one that is quite severe, will not result in the vehicle exploding. Why is this important for us to know? I, as have many other emergency service workers, have witnessed drivers and passengers suffer increased injury and trauma by the misguided attempts of spontaneous volunteers or good samaritans who drag people from a vehicle after an accident thinking they are saving that injured person from an imminent explosion. In doing so, spinal injuries which may have required relatively minor treatment become more serious issues, possibly even leading to paraplegia.

Another myth that deserves dispelling, especially in Australia, land of the bushfire, is that cars will explode upon exposure to a fire front. Not true, your car will afford you some protection from radiant heat in the event that you are confronted by a fire front. Running from the vehicle fearing that it may explode is not the answer. Naturally enough the best solution is never to put yourself in that position, however, sometimes it is unavoidable. The Country Fire Services around Australia all issue action guides on what to do if you are caught by a bushfire whilst in your vehicle and all recommend staying in the vehicle until the fire front has passed. Sure, your car may catch fire and it will be the most terrifying five minutes of your life but the car will offer more protection than getting out of the vehicle and trying to outrun a bushfire. When the fire front has passed exit the vehicle and move away from it. Many of may have seen pictures of stolen cars being burned to nothing more than a shell by the thieves that stole the vehicle once it had served its purpose. Again, it is very rare that a vehicle, even fully involved in fire, explodes. The greatest chance of a vehicle explosion comes from an LPG fuelled vehicle that is involved is a substantial and prolonged fire.

So next time you are first on the scene of a motor vehicle accident or involed in one, unless there is a clear and present danger it is usually best to remain in the vehicle and stabilise injuries until the arrival of the emergency services. Not exacerbate injuries by dragging injured parties from a vehicle that is unlikely to catch fire and even more unlikely, explode.