Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Welcome to our fourth installment of our Guard Yourself series. Today we will be discussing vehicle defense.
In vehicle defense as in other aspects of defense, the first step is awareness. Pay attention to the space your vehicle occupies, whether you are driving, stopped at a light, in a parking lot, or in your driveway at home. Know what is near you at all times. Don't be distracted by adjusting the radio volume, picking songs, talking on the phone or even other passengers. Focus on the task at hand, getting yourself and/or others to the appointed place at the proper time.
We also need to be aware of the other vehicles around us. Paying attention to other vehicles can help us avoid accidents and road rage if we react properly. One way we can do this is to maintain a minimum of 3 seconds distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. To check this, find an object on the side of the road, such as a sign or mailbox, and start counting as the car in front of you passes the object. You should be at 3 seconds by the time your vehicle reaches the object. If not, slow down and repeat. This allows you 3 seconds to react if the vehicle slams on the brakes, makes a sudden turn, or does anything suspicious. Also, when behind a vehicle at a stoplight/sign, bring your vehicle to a stop while you can still see their tires touching the pavement. This gives you the ability to easily maneuver your vehicle to the left or right if something happens while stopped.
Another step is to lock your doors. This makes it more difficult for a pedestrian with ill intentions to enter your vehicle. Most vehicles have automatic locking doors but only as you're driving. Develop the habit of locking your doors as you enter your vehicle and you'll be less likely to have any surprise passengers.
Next, if you see something suspicious or someone you don't know is trying to get your attention, stay in your vehicle. You are in a much more defendable position in your vehicle than out of it. If you feel you are in danger, keep driving. Your vehicle travels much faster than anyone on foot.
Also, don't let your fuel gauge go below a half tank without filling up. This allows you to continue driving if you feel like you're being followed or if you feel unsafe wherever you've stopped. And in the case you are being followed, never go home. Drive to a police or fire station or even to a local store. Speak to someone in authority as quickly as possible and don't allow yourself to be isolated.
Lastly, drive courteously. Studies have shown that only rarely will aggressive driving get you where you want to go any faster than you would if you drive courteously. Most of the time, aggressive drivers are the ones that cause traffic jams, weaving in and out of lanes instead of picking one and staying in it. If you accidentally cut someone off, try to make it right if possible. Being courteous behind the wheel can easily reduce road rage against yourself and all you have to do is control your own reaction to others.
Be alert, be aware, stay safe,