Safety for Vehicle Travel
According to the CDC road accidents are the world’s leading cause of death for individuals aged 15-29. Roads throughout the world are shared by cars, busses, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, pedestrians, animals, and almost any other category of travel you can think of. Every year these vehicles are involved in crashes that are responsible for 1.25 million deaths and 20-50 million injuries. Whether you are on the road at home or abroad, know the risks and take the following steps to protect your and your family’s safety.
► Keep maps of the local area, a cell phone (and/or a cell phone charger), and a first aid kit in your car.
► Periodically check your spare tire and emergency equipment – jack is complete along with lug wrench. Other items for emergencies as you determine (tool kit, spare gas can, etc)
► Have appropriate clothing or blankets in the car if the weather dictates (extra water in a hot area, cold weather clothing in a cold area).
► Plan your trips out ahead of time so you are not distracted by maps or your phone while driving.
► Vary routes to work and home. Don’t be time-place predictable for criminal gangs or carjackers.
► Avoid late night travel. Especially if you are driving overseas, most countries in the world do not have lighted road ways like we have in the U.S.
► Avoid isolated roads or dark alleys.
► Wear seatbelts, lock doors, and close windows.
► Keep your car well maintained with tires properly inflated and the gas tank at least half full.
► Keep your distance from the vehicle in front of you, so if you need to react and escape you have room to maneuver. Anticipate the movement of other vehicles.
► Select a plain car; avoid the "rich American" look. Blend in with your surroundings.
► Avoid rental agency bumper stickers that mark you as a tourist.
► Do not display decals with American affiliations on vehicle.
► Do not display high value items in your vehicle.
Parking Your Car:
► Always lock your car.
► Do not leave your car on the street overnight, if possible. Check for suspicious persons before exiting car. If in doubt, drive away.
► Leave only the ignition key with parking attendant.
► Do not leave garage doors open or unlocked.
► Use a remote garage door opener. Enter and exit your car in the security of the closed garage.
► Perform a vehicle inspection each time your vehicle is left unattended or in an unsecured area.
► Visual exterior inspection: Without touching the vehicle, look for any evidence of tampering on the undercarriage and in the wheel wells
► Visual interior inspection: Without touching the vehicle, look through the windows for anything unusual on the seats or floorboards.
► Complete interior inspection: Look under the hood, in the trunk, in the glove compartment, behind the gas cap cover, under the seats, in the interior console — anywhere something may be hidden.
On The Road:
►Before leaving buildings to get into your vehicle, check the surrounding area to determine if anything of a suspicious nature exists. Use the same caution before leaving your car.
► Do not get boxed in by traffic; maintain 8-feet between you and the car in front. Avoid the inner lanes. Be alert while driving or riding.
► If you are living in a non-permissive environment, be vigilant to the possible presence of IEDs. IEDs may be disguised as:
► Potholes or recent road construction.
► Dead animals.
► Roadside planters and landscaping.
► Abandoned vehicles.
► Almost any other ordinary object.
If you are followed:
► Check during turns to confirm surveillance.
► Do not stop or seek a confrontation.
► Do not drive home. Go to a police station or other government institution like a fire station or hospital.
► Get a description of the car and its occupants and report that to local authorities.
When it all goes Wrong
Recognize events that can signal the start of an attack, again if you have done your home work and you understand the criminal attack cycle and know your chokepoints, you should be situationally aware and in the mindset to react. Here are just a few for you to think about:
► Cyclist falls in front of your car.
► Flagman or workman stops your car.
► Unusual police or government checkpoint.
► Disabled vehicle or accident victims on the road.
► Unusual detours.
► Another car strikes your car.
► Cars or pedestrians box you in.
► Motorcyclist drives between lanes of traffic to approach your car.
If you are attacked:
► Sound the horn to draw attention.
► Put another vehicle between you and your attacker.
► Immediately turn and escape; jump a curb or median at 30-45 degree angle, 35 mph maximum.
► Ram the blocking vehicle. Your vehicle is a weapon, use it as you must to escape.
► Go to closest safe haven, police station, fire station, etc.
► Report incident to police.
Carjacking has become one of the most prevalent crimes in the world. Most carjackings occur for the sole purpose of taking the car. You can protect yourself by becoming familiar with the methods, ruses, and locations commonly used by carjackers. Follow the guidance below to avoid becoming a victim of a carjacking:
→ When in your car, always keep the doors locked. Any time you drive through areas containing stoplights, stop signs, or anything that significantly reduces vehicular speed, keep your windows up.
→ Leave ample maneuvering space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. When in traffic, if you follow the person to your front closely, then when they stop, you will be too close to maneuver. Leave enough room to between you and car in front of you to turn out of that lane, in case the need arises. If you are approached by suspicious persons while you are stopped, do not roll down windows; drive away quickly.
→ If you are being followed or harassed by another driver, try to find the nearest police station, hotel, or other public facility. Once you find a place of safety, don't worry about using a legal parking space. Park as close as you can, and get inside fast.
→ If another driver tries to force you to pull over or to cut you off, keep driving and try to get away. Try to note the license plate number of the car and a description of the car and driver. If this effort places you in danger, don't do it. The information is not as important as your safety.
→ If you are being followed, never lead the person back to your home or stop and get out. Drive to the nearest police station or public facility. (You could verify surveillance by going completely around an arbitrarily chosen block.) Always report these incidents to the police.
→ If you are traveling alone and a car "bumps" into you, don't stop to exchange accident information. Go to the nearest service station or other public place to call the police.
→ Never, ever pick up hitchhikers!
→ When you park, look for a spot that offers good lighting and is close to a location where there are a lot of people. Lock valuables in the trunk, and lock all doors.
→ Extra precautions are necessary when shopping. If you take packages out to lock them in your trunk, then plan to return to the stores to do more shopping, it may be a good idea to move your car to another section of the parking lot or street. The criminal knows that you will be coming back and can wait to ambush you. By moving your car, you give the impression you're leaving. If you think you are being followed, do not go back to your car. Return to the safety of the occupied shopping area or office building and contact the authorities.
→ If you have car trouble on the road, raise your hood. If you have a radio antenna, place a handkerchief or other flag there. When people stop to help, don't get out of the car unless you know them or it's the police. Ask the "good samaritan" to stop at the nearest service station and report your problem.
→ If you are in a parking lot or parked on the street and have trouble, be wary of personal assistance from strangers. Go to the nearest telephone and call a repair service or friend for assistance. If you feel threatened by the presence of nearby strangers, lock yourself in your car and blow the horn to attract attention of others.
By using these basic safety tips and your own common sense, you can help protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim of a carjacking.