If you were escaping a sinister four-wheeled kidnapping, say, how would you make that leap of faith and live to tell the tale? “In any extreme situation we need to make a decision and react quickly,” says Andreas Petrides, one of the U.K.’s leading stunt performers and founder of the British Action Academy.
“The key is not to panic—you have to take control and get yourself on autopilot.” And with an extensive CV that includes Star Wars, Mission: Impossible and four James Bond movies, he’s certainly no stranger to performing death-defying, high-speed stunts himself.
“You may be scared and you may get injured in the process,” he adds, “but if you follow these techniques, it should keep you from serious injury and save your life.” Don’t try this at home, kids.
1 WATCH YOUR SPEED
“The first thing you need to think about is speed. Obviously, the slower the vehicle is traveling, the better. You’ll have more control, and the time it takes your body to decelerate is reduced, which will mean fewer impact points to your body from the ground. The faster you tumble, the more friction will be working against your body. Stay alert for any dips in speed.”
2 PICK YOUR DROP ZONE
“The second thing you need to watch out for is surface. Landing into water would be ideal—if it’s deep enough and clear of objects then there will be nothing hard impacting your body. Landing on grass or sand would be preferable to tarmac or concrete; harder surfaces allow no give, and the impact and damage to your body could be more severe.”
3 PREPARE FOR LANDING
“Before you jump, grab whatever you can and use it to help cushion your fall and give you extra protection—extra clothing, jackets, cushions, floor mats … You could even try removing the rear seat and land with it as a pad. Open the car door as wide as you can so it doesn’t obstruct your fall. If you hit it, you could bounce and be sent back toward the wheels.”
4 STAY LOW AND LOOSE
“When exiting the vehicle, keep your body relaxed. Do not tense up—this will make the impacts harder and can strain or tear muscles. The lower you can get to the ground the better, as the first impact is normally the worst. Try to face in the opposite direction to the traveling vehicle—this will allow you to roll backwards and stop your face from hitting the ground.”
5 HOLD YOUR POSITION
“Keep your chin on your chest, elbows and knees tucked in and legs slightly bent. Both feet should leave the car at the same time or your legs will split. Don’t jump up high or out far—this makes the body position more unpredictable on first impact. Always try to land feet first and then on the center of your back to ensure you get the safest landing.”