By circumstance and by choice I spend a lot of time on the roads of America – primarily in the East and South. So it is that I am able to constantly observe the driving habits of my fellow citizens. I hate to say it but the average American has the motoring prowess of a rotting turnip.
It seems to me that most (at least many) people out there simply do not have a solid command of how a car works nor how to properly use one on the road. Add in smartphones, texting, bluetooth, “infotainment”, fast food, sleepiness, and 1,001 distractions and it’s a miracle that there are not 500 times as many wrecks as there are.
And I’m talking about normal, ordinary driving here. What ever would become of people if they had to, just for a moment, drive tactically – as if their lives depended on it? I’m not convinced the majority would make it. Wyatt Knox, a professional driver, raised this issue at ITS Tactical. He posted a piece on Tactical Driving Tips.
He notes that the odds are low these skills are really needed. However I think they are worth at least being aware of, if not worthy of implementation. And if more drivers were cognizant of these skills, everyday driving might improve just a bit.
Tactical Driving Skills To Just Consider
These suggestions are more about mindset than actual performance. One will tend to dictate the other. Be a driver not a zombie.
One. You ARE a Driver
The self-driving, robo-car is coming and fast. Some are already here. In a matter of short years they’ll be everywhere and probably mandated by law. That will bring its own problems. For now you are in control of your car, truck, or SUV. Act like it.
You must assess traffic and the road conditions. You must keep control of the vehicle. Concentrate on driving and maintain full awareness. Know where you’re going and the alternative routes. Be ready for the unexpected.
Two. Moving Means Safety
The best way to avoid danger on the road is to keep moving. Doors locked and windows up make a moving car hard to access. The faster you drive, the harder it is for most people to follow you or successfully shoot at you. Make it very hard, impossible for attackers to stop you.
Should you find that someone is chasing you, be prepared to break the law – when safe to do so. It’s called the emergency doctrine. One can disobey traffic laws – speed limits, stop signs, etc. – in order to avoid harm so long as one doesn’t cause greater harm. If the police intervene you have a defense and you probably need and want the police too.
Three. Leave Room
If you have to stop, either in traffic or to park, always leave room to maneuver out. The worst thing that you can do is box yourself in. And remember that moving might mean forward or backing up.
Hang back and slow down in heavy traffic. This will allow you to watch patterns and look for side streets. And remember that when you start moving you’ll probably need to move fast.
Four. Back Up
Modern cars come with backup cameras. That’s because most modern drivers can’t backup on their own. Learn to do it the old fashion way. And learn to drive in reverse for short periods. This might be the difference in getting caught and escaping. The car will be more unstable but you can turn and put it in drive the first chance you get.
Practice driving at speed in reverse. Most cars will handle acceleration in verse at around the same rate as their second gears. Master it.
Five. Don’t Go Hollywood
Modern “safety” features prevent many of the old school, cool moves like 180 reverse turns. And most of these tactics can wreck a car anyway. Unless you have extensive training in tactical driving and know your car can handle it, leave the Bo and Luke stuff to television.
Again, these suggestions are more about mentality than anything else. Awareness of conditions will preclude most extreme measures. Pay attention!
*Wyatt is the 2011 2-Wheel Drive US Rally Champion, Special Projects Director at the Team O’Neil Rally School and is now racing internationally as well as doing private instruction and coaching.
For more good driving and automotive tips, I suggest readers check out Eric Peters. He wages a weekly war against both bad driving and government intervention.
You don’t have to drive like Steve McQueen but you must be better than average. Preppers of all people should remember that the day may come – when bugging out – that extreme competence behind the wheel will be necessary. Don’t wait until it hits the fan. Pick up a few tips now so you won’t be under extreme pressure then. And, as I mentioned, this just might make the daily drive a little easier anyway.
Happy (and competent) driving!
Perrin Lovett writes about freedom, firearms, and cigars (and everything else) at www.perrinlovett.me. He is none too fond of government meddling.