Just because the study shows car escape tools aren't always effective doesn't mean you shouldn't have one in your car. On the contrary. "AAA recommends a spring loaded-style tool, as we found that some of the hammer tools we tested broke when impacting the glass," Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive engineering and industry relation, says an email. "Keep in mind that any tool you select will only be effective for breaking tempered glass."
These tools are also especially useful in case your seat belt release doesn't work. Some car escape tools, like those made by resqme, incorporate blades that let you quickly and safely slice your seat belt, rather than fumbling with a buckle that may not open.
"We always recommend people who buy the resqme test it on a notepad to make sure the inner spring-loaded mechanism works," Benjamin Duprat, digital media analyst for resqme, says via email. "When pressing the head of the tool against the notepad, they should hear a little 'click' and they will observe a little hole from the blade on the surface."
You can also test the tool on a soft piece of wood, according to AAA, and you'll know the tool works if it leaves an indent mark. Duprat also suggests consumers watch online tutorials to familiarize themselves with the tool before they might actually need to use it.