Thanks to customer Donna S. for suggesting this question.
The short answer is yes. Locking your doors reduces your risk of being carjacked and also can be safer in an accident by making the door less likely to pop open. Not only does a closed door help prevent occupants from being ejected in a crash, it helps the car maintain structural integrity, meaning if it rolls over, the roof is less likely to collapse. On some cars, the doors lock automatically when you shift into gear and unlock automatically if the airbag deploys.
Still, the question isn't without controversy.
Many people fear being trapped in a car if the doors are locked. They worry it would be harder for a rescuer to get them out after a crash or that they'd be unable to free themselves if the car caught fire or plunged into water.
Fortunately, both are very unlikely scenarios. First responders are accustomed to getting people out of cars with damaged doors. (Often the force of a crash will jam the door, making it inoperable, locked or not.) And, contrary to what the movies would have you believe, only 4% of motor vehicle deaths result from fire.
To help relieve fears of being trapped in a car, consider carrying a window-punch and belt-cutter tool. It's designed to help you break a tempered-glass side window and escape a car with inoperable doors. It clips on your key ring, rearview mirror, or center console, keeping it within reach if the car turns upside down or plunges into water.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAR PLUNGES INTO WATER
DO: Immediately release your seatbelt and roll down the window. Most power windows will work briefly under water. If they don't, use your window-breaking tool. Swim out quickly and forcefully, knowing you'll be fighting the torrent of water rushing in.
DON'T: Open the door. The car will fill with water faster, and the door likely won't open against the force of the water, anyway. Don't believe the fallacy of waiting for the car to fill to equalize the pressure so you can open the door. Also, don't waste precious time calling 9-1-1 from inside a sinking vehicle. You've got only about 30 seconds, and you need them to save yourself. Check out this video from ABC Nightline.
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