THE OPERATIONAL SECURITY OF DRIVING
Driving gives one a false sense of anonymity and invisibility. You are in your car, all by yourself, looking at the road ahead of you, not beside or behind you. You come to believe that just because you are paying attention to the road, that no one is looking at you. It’s because of this mindset of invisibility that one sees drivers doing all sorts of things – picking their noses, singing to their favorite songs, applying makeup, and having heated cell phone conversations. Realize that your vehicle is a fish bowl into which anyone can look within and see you engaged in all sorts of activities that would be considered private if they were happening in a home or business.
- You are not invisible while driving, and if someone is following or observing you for whatever reasons, they will glean much information about you – if you let them! What sorts of information can be gleaned by your vehicle depends on the situation, but here are some examples:
- The back window or trunk displays popular icons such as “sandals” or other icons that represent how many people you have in your family. A phenomenon that is increasing rapidly, people actually place sandals icons on their vehicles – a big pair for dad, a smaller pair for mom, and subsequent smaller pairs for each child. The icons vary by design but always show the same pattern. No one needs to know how many family members you have – nothing good could come from revealing this information to total strangers – not only revealing it, but driving it around town like a moving billboard and advertising it!
- Bumper stickers that display and affiliation of some sort. Showing your support for your favorite organization is a bad idea for two reasons – 1) it reveals your political leanings and thus pegs you to both criminals and law enforcement; 2) it identifies your vehicle to anyone who may be observing you (e.g., He’s the guy with all the NRA stickers). Resist the urge to place bumper stickers on your vehicle, especially those that endorse gun rights, political views, past or present military affiliations, or anything along those lines. You do not need the added scrutiny that these stickers bring.
- Personalized license plates are a sure fire method of positively identifying your vehicle every single time. Is the message you are trying to convey within your personalized license plate that important that you want to compromise your anonymity?
- How identifiable is your vehicle when you park? Can someone come up to the car window, look inside, and see all your mail sitting on the front seat, complete with home address? How about your business cards, photos of you or loved ones, or even something as harmless as an attaché case with your name or even initials on it? Your vehicle should be left sanitized inside whenever you park it. Stow all personal gear and electronics.
If you’ve noticed the theme thus far, it is keep your vehicle as anonymous and nondescript as possible. An anonymous vehicle is the first step to driving to survive.
Next, as a rule, make sure you follow these tips and that your car is ready at all times:
- Always ensure that your vehicle has a half tank of gas or more. Fill up when it reaches a half tank! You can’t engage in evasive driving if you have no gas, and keeping a minimum of half tank in your vehicle at all times gives you valuable options as to where you can go.
- Besides gas, your number one vehicle consideration is the condition of your battery. Everything else can be perfect, but if your car does not start you won’t get very far.
- Make sure your drivetrain and brakes are in perfect condition. Stopping and going is clearly necessary in an evasive driving scenario and you want to make sure your vehicle can perform at top levels in what could lead to a demanding driving session.
- Tires need to be properly inflated for fuel economy, safety, and performance. Check these regularly as normal driving will cause them to change pressure or deflate over time.
- Preemptively check fluid levels! Don’t wait for the light to come on.