When we talk of driving, we often think of SHTF... getting to the BOL after the main roads are blocked... driving cross country outrunning the tornado... driving through the wilderness in a Jeep... but what about just getting safely through heavy traffic in an urban area? That's what many of us do on a regular basis.
As a commuter, it is easy to slip into normalcy bias. The same route to work, the same people at the bus stops, the same stop lights. It can all change in a split second... Just ask Reginald Denny.
I've got a few ideas to keep in mind to help you not fall into the slumber of normalcy bias.
- Keep your rig ready
- keep your maintenance up to date
- check oil, tire pressure, essential fluids, belts and hoses regularly - at least once a month
- keep your washer fluid topped off and your windshield wipers effective
- ensure lights, brakes and steering are all working as they should
- stay fueled up
- don't let your gas get below a half tank
- fuel up strategically and tactically
- plan your fuel stops and known and busy locations
- fill up during daylight if possible
- angle your vehicle to minimize your exposure while pumping
- Maintain an escape route
- on multi-lane roads, stay to the outside if there is a wide sidewalk or inside if there is a wide median or the road is undivided
- keep plenty of room between you and the car in front of you - don't allow yourself to get boxed in
- at stop lights, try to time it so you are at the front of the line - if you can't be at the front, then leave enough room in front of you and to the side to escape - using the sidewalk or a quick U-turn if needed
- Be situationally aware
- Watch out for wreck set ups
- pedestrians hovering close to a curb may be planning to jump out in front of your car
- beat up cars at stop lights may jerk forward slightly hoping for you to rear end them
- a bump from behind may be a set up for a robbery or car jacking
- if a crowd is in the street turn around - attempting to go through them will result in you being attacked - you will not be justified using your car as a weapon until it is too late to use it as a weapon - it is unbelievable how easy a mob can stop a car
- Know where you are and multiple ways to get where you want to be
These are just some basic reminders of ways to be prepared and stay safer while driving in an urban environment. I base the information on my experience. I've driven close to 750,000 miles, been endorsed as a driver training teacher, completed tactical and pursuit driving in the police academy, been trained in escape and evasive driving techniques by U.S. State Dept. instructors, and took emergency vehicle operators course (EVOC) for the rescue squad.