Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pooot fooot! Floor it!

Seventy-six percent of carjackings take place in driveways. Not even necessarily YOUR driveway. Could be someone else’s, someone you’re visiting.

And now Richard launched into a whole riff about awareness, and paying attention.

“Ladies, use your mirrors! Not for your eyes and lips, girls, but for looking around you! Check to see if you’ve been followed home from the grocery store. If you see someone behind you, go around the block and try again. It’s just a few more minutes, but it’s important!”

“How many times have I heard, ‘Richard, they came from nowhere. Just knives, guns, everywhere! They came from the sky!’ What’s the problem here?No awareness, people! The guy was on his cell phone, talking to a friend, not paying attention, and he got hijacked. Bad news.”

“And”, Richard continued, “you’re to check up and down the street, too. A hijacker could be waiting, watching at the next corner, and in the time it takes for you to signal, look, and turn (3 seconds) and then the time it takes for your gate to open (15-22 seconds), they’re racing toward you and have you blocked in. Guns pointed. “Get out, get out!” Your car is gone. But hopefully, not your life too. And don’t do anything stupid, like throwing the keys into the bushes or something. You want them to take the car, and their knives and guns, and go away as quickly as possible. The longer you’re with the hijackers, the more dangerous it all becomes for you.”

So, you must leave yourself an escape route while waiting for the gate to open, make sure you haven’t been followed, and then once you go through the gate, stop immediately inside it while it closes, so no one can follow you in.

Sounds like REALLY defensive driving, doesn’t it? I don’t remember learning this back in driver’s ed in Wisconsin.

And then, what if you’re being followed home? Well, first of all, you’ve already, ALWAYS, locked your doors, and your windows are all closed. You check your rearview mirror, often. But someone is behind you. So reduce your speed, and force them to catch up. Put on your left indicator (blinker). Slow down to 20 kph, and force them to overtake you and hope they’ll go pick on someone else, I suppose.

But there’s another scenario, more threatening. There’s a car cruising along next to you on the expressway, it’s after nine pm, dark. There are four big okes (“blokes” in Brit-speak) inside the other car, and it looks like they’re trying to force you off the road.

Richard’s advice? If you’re lighter, you’re faster. With four guys in that car, you have an advantage. Don’t hit the brakes. “Poooot foooot”, as they say here. Floor it! Try to outrun them, to a police station, a hospital, a filling station, whatever. And stay inside the car until the bitter end.

Yet another situation. You’re at a light, in traffic. You’ve left ample space between you and the car in front of you, so you can see where their rear tyres touch the road’s surface. About a car length of space. You get bumped from behind. You must think, “Is this bump enough to worry about? And do I feel safe? No?” So put on your hazard blinkers and drive to the nearest hospital, police station or petrol station. If they don’t follow you, it’s no loss. No loss of your LIFE.

And, if you look behind you and see four big dudes storming out of the car behind you, while you’re waiting at that same light, turn the steering wheel, hard, to where you want to go (around the car in front of you) and slam on the gas. At the same time, drop your head and body completely down below the level of the windows and accelerate for as long as it takes to count “1001, 1002”. Then pop up again so you can see where you’re driving.

This tactic has multiple things going for it. First, by dropping down in your seat, you have more metal between you and bullets, and your internal organs are more protected. Not to even mention your brain. Secondly, I suppose if you end up crashing the car, they might not want it so much after all.

Did I tell you I plan to become a stunt driver when I return to the States? I’ll be an extra in the next “Fast and Furious” sequel.

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