Basics of Defensive Driving for Carjacking or kidnapping attacks:
When leaving a facility to your vehicle have your keys in your hand, and look around for anything suspect, if in any doubt if you can sound the emergency signals on the car, you can always apologize later. Bad guys will be looking around to see who is watching, everyone else will be looking at your or your car. By the way everything will look suspect the first time, but once you get into the habit, you will notice the suspect behavior.
When you get in lock all doors and start the car, put it in gear. Now look around again, get your car out at least two feet, that should give you enough room to jump the curb if you have to and give a person attacking a moving target. If you have a front wheel drive car, the back makes a pretty safe battering ram, so any speed gives you an edge even over a heaver car.
One of the strangest things I have found over the years, that even in a life and death situations people do not like to damage their cars. Get over it, that is what you have insurance for, if needed hit the other car, or newspaper stand, the key is to move. In most situations the danger zone is a fairly small area, one expert just wrote in another blog about the X get off the X anyway you can. Actually most ambush areas are around 30 to 60 feet, but if you can move the 64 feet you are out of the zone, and actually have the bad guys shooting into them selves in some cases to get to you.
When driving you always want to be able turn around the vehicle in front of you, a quick rule of thumb is that you need to be able to see the tires of the vehicle in front of you touch the road. When you come to a stop, remember that the key is to be able to get around the vehicle, and as always be able to move your car even a few feet to shake off an attackers aim.
If possible always try to be in a curb or center lane, so you can move to one side or the other to get away, remember jumping curbs is not something you want to do, but it can be done quickly, at worst you will lose the tire, and maybe a wheel, but it should climb the curb. There is a lot of science on this but once again try and get a 20 degree turn into the curb to jump it, less and you may not make it, and even take the chance of folding a wheel over, by breaking the tie joints. Sounds like beeping the horn and if it work sounding the emergency from the key chain are still good, if it does not effect the bad guys it will at least get the attention of other drivers and people near by. None of which is good for the bad guy.
Let's take a quick look at your route, look for areas where the bad guys can block you in the easiest, if you feel any threat, then make sure you do not use those routes if possible. If you use Google maps, you can often see your route when you pin for instance your home and your office. Google often will give you the option of a second route, even a third, take a look at all of them. When US State Department teams go out and survey routes for employees in foreign countries this is what they are doing. You look for choke points where it is easy to stop or block you in, or things like alleyways that allow for a blocking maneuver by having a car pull out in front of you. This actually can take a lot of time and effort, but is well worth both. I have spent hours on doing this for clients all over the world, it does take a little time, but in many cases I have known the attacker best choice before they did, and we caught them setting up surveillance at the point we picked out.
If Google does not automatically offer other route options, take the pin out of the home or office and move it over to a main street nearby, that should give you more options. Now comes the work, you need to take these different options at times so you know them, and the bad guy has to guess what you will do.
When we look at route we also look for two other things, one is a place we can go to that has police or other armed security, two is a place we can brush off folks following us. In McAllen, Tx the airport has both, there are always police and federal officers there, and if you pull into the short term parking you can leave immediately with out having to pay. The following car will either have to follow, or move at high speed thru the airport to catch back up to you. If you had any suspicion this type of maneuver will make the bad guy show his hand. Even driving thru a strip mall parking lot can be effective for a quick brush off, that will tell you your being followed.
It always looks good on the movies to see a high speed chase, with the one car trying to out run the other. In any case I have ever seen, this is a bad move. The key speeds are over 20 and under what ever you feel you can safely drive. Remember at 110 miles an hour, if the other car is chasing you they often have an effective speed difference of 0 miles per hour. and they have more people in the car to take aim and shoot at you. If you are going no faster than 50 miles per hour, then you can speed up or slow down changing the effective speed of the following car by well over 20 miles per hour. I like to stay in the lead, but that does not mean you have to stay in the parade, turning off to another road, puts you back in the lead again, and as long as you have done your home work you know where you are going.
If you have been doing this type of awareness defensive driving for a while there is a very good chance you will pick up the surveillance long before they are actually ready to act. In fact it is often reported to me by clients that they have pickup surveillance on another car before they did on their own. There is a good reason for this, you have a chance to see the surveillance car as they are following, they are not looking for you, they are looking for someone else.
Other quick tips, keep the windows up, and at least a 1/4 tank of gas in the vehicle at all times. Use your cell phone to call someone and talk to them in you feel something is not right. If you can not reach anyone, call your voice mail and leave yourself a message, with descriptions and routes you are traveling, anything that will help us find you.
I practice saying the plate number of cars around me out loud, science tell us this helps remember things better, even writing a plate number on the palm of your hand with a finger, helps in memory recall.
Awareness is like anything else it takes practice, and your life can often depend on it. I have briefed many people over the years with high threat potential, and a few where attacks have been thwarted. In every case if they practiced awareness, they had a step on the bad guys. Cameras and other high tech devices can and will help, but you are the first and last line of defense for you and your family.
This is Rich, till next time stay safe