Elevators have multiple safety features, including brakes to stop them immediately if a cable breaks.
This is done mechanically, using variations of an idea dreamed up by elevator engineer Elisha Graves Otis, founder of the elevator company that still bears his name.
His safety brake was a large, bow-shaped spring that attached to the car and connected to the elevator cable. When taut, the cable kept the spring flexed.
However, if the cable broke, the spring would immediately flatten out, jamming its ends into notched guard rails on either side of the elevator and bringing it to an immediate stop. Good show, Mr. Otis!
Demonstrated first in 1854, it’s a system still in use today, making elevators just about the safest form of transportation there is, boasting only 1 fatality for every 100 million miles traveled.
Stairs, in comparison, are five times more dangerous.