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Old December 16, 2009, 04:24 PM   #1
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Defensive Driving


Can we create a sticky on defensive driving? There has already been a thread on this back in August but most of it is about what kind of vehicle someone has that can out run, out push, or out damage a perp’s car. Also a lot of comments about staying calm, don’t flip someone, don’t cut off someone, etc. etc.

This is all good information but how about one in which only the actual actions to avoid or evade are listed? These to be correlated and edited to become concise and pertinent. No opinions and no “this is what happened to me”.

At signal or signed stops stay back enough from the vehicle in front that you can see its rear tires. This allows room to surge to one side or the other and get away.

Can we do it?

Let a moderator reply and if a "go ahead" we can begin adding. Please wait for a "go ahead" before doing anything.

If you don't want it, please delete this post.
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Old December 16, 2009, 10:17 PM   #2
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Thanks for the suggestion Clay, but we only sticky threads that either impart an important message from TFL staff, or a "high road" thread that contains unusually valuable information for our members.

In the case of the latter, well... we won't know that until the thread develops.

Let's see where this one goes, and we'll take it from there.
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Old December 17, 2009, 01:24 AM   #3
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Wow... I don't know if I can follow Capt Charlie's post. Hopefully, I can offer some tips on things I do that someone else finds valuable...

Personally, situational awareness is number one! Knowing if there are people on the sidewalks, where other vehicles are around me (This is a must! Others don't seem to concern themselves with that!), and have the doors locked. At stops, I try to be in the outside lane and I always try to stop somewhere I can peel off the road (to evade) if things get sticky. If that's not possible, I look for the shortest curb. Yeah, it will damage the rims, but if it gets you out of the kill zone, it's worth it.

I think the one problem we're going to run into with this thread is the high occurrence of SHTF scenarios.

Anyway, I hope this is the type of thing you're looking for! Maybe at the least, its a jumping-off point!
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Old December 17, 2009, 01:45 AM   #4
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There are many things one can do to get away and not have violence be the resolution. My first approach would to this would be as above mentioned stay in the inside lane of traffic and watch what surrounds you so there is away to get out. Now if you are not paying attention to your surroundings, my recommendation would be one of two things. (What you are driving and the attacker is driving as well must be taken into account). If you are in a faster car you can try to keep your distance till you hit a straight a ways or a highway or interstate to lose the attacker. If this is not possible, I would head to a populated area with many witnesses and try your luck. I would like to think no matter what the attacker is thinking or trying to prove, they would not want to do it in a area with to many people to get a description and or possible license plate number. Also calling 911 on a cell phone when this first occurs and giving the police your exact location would be the first thing I would do. I believe using a firearm is a last resort even if you are only trying to shoot out the tires of the attacking vehicle.
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Old December 17, 2009, 04:29 AM   #5
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Defensive Driving
Let’s cover 2 situations: 1. Avoid, 2. Evade.

Please add your tips or suggested changes for this. If you disagree with an item, voice your opinion and suggest a better method, or suggest it isn’t valid.

Let’s keep it on methods of avoidance or evasion, no use of firearms involved (keep that for another thread).

Please put all items into a “bulleted” format. Each specific action by itself. As follows:

These are what I had lined up to post.

Soupie & Grey, I believe I might be duplicating some of your items in here. Well, great minds run alike.


If you find yourself in a bad area it is obvious you are lost to the extent that you aren’t where you intended to be. Turn around immediately and go back the way you came in. Do not try for a shortcut out, it’s unknown territory, unless a definite pathway out is in view. The way you came in is known to you for at least one transit—that’s how you got here.

Don’t tailgate at a stop. Always stop back far enough to keep the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you in view. This allows enough room to swing out and leave the scene.

Upon leaving a stop do not close up the space between you and the vehicle before you. If you close up you are still in danger of being boxed in if the vehicle in front stops.

Unless making a right hand turn stay in the left lane at stops. This allows you to swing out into the opposite land and leave the scene.

Be first in line if possible. This way there is no vehicle in front of you to block your escape.

If it appears you are being intentionally boxed in, turn off onto a side street. Watch out for dead-ends. Or make a U-turn, don’t worry about if it’s illegal or a one way street because if you meet a cop he’s who you need at the moment. If he writes a citation, don’t argue. Take it and then ask him to escort you to a safe place.

If at a red light and suspicious persons are approaching you, run the light. If you meet a cop, he’s who you need at the moment. If he writes a citation, don’t argue. Take it and then ask him to escort you to a safe place.

If you are in a area strange to you watch for changes in the environment. Sometimes a street can quickly change from good to bad. If this happens, turn around immediately.

When stopped by signal or sign check your mirrors. Persons approaching from the rear are not quickly noticed.

If sideswiped do not stop until you get to a safe place. Be certain this place is well lit and visible to several other persons not of one group. If no safe place can be quickly found keeping driving. Call the police as quickly as you can and tell them what you are doing.

If you find you are in a bad place and possible assailants are about, hold your cell phone to your ear, even if not talking, to give the appearance that a possible audible witness is on-line.

If on the road and being stalked find a line of traffic, preferably a line of trucks, get into the midst of it, and stay there.


Ram your way out. Be prepared to sustain damage to your vehicle in making your escape. Become familiar with the components of your vehicle in order to know which parts can sustain damage and the vehicle still run. The rear end can take more damage than the front. As soon as it is safe to do so, call the police and inform them of what happened and what you did. this might avoid a hit-and-run charge, or at least tame it down.

If your vehicle is rear wheel drive learn how to make a spin-turn for turning around in a narrow street. While moving forward, whip the wheel right or left while pressing the brake and gunning the engine. Rear wheel drives will whip the back end around. Front wheel drive won’t do this. You better practice this on a deserted parking lot or in a field first, however. It gets tricky.
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Old December 17, 2009, 08:10 AM   #6
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In terms of evading, you guys might consider participating in a few SCCA solo2 events. They are basically time trials in large parking lots or runways. Instruction is free, and you will learn to explore the limits of your car's capabilities in a very safe environment. I've been doing them in my formula car for 2 years.
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Old December 17, 2009, 09:16 AM   #7
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Real driving is much more like a solo / autocross event, you can learn a lot there and really become competent at handling your vehicle at its extremes.
The best defence can be a good offence, know how to handle yourself and your vehicle and be able to drive aggressively (WHEN APPROPRIATE).

Last edited by JohnKSa; December 18, 2009 at 01:34 AM. Reason: Removed Off Topic Remarks.
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Old December 17, 2009, 09:44 AM   #8
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Being a Highway Patrolman, I answer calls on road rage incidents all the time. My best advise is 1). Be a defensive driver and not an aggressive driver. 2) call 911 at the first instance and let the police deal with it. 3) slow down and let them go. If you speed up, they probably will also. you don't know how many times I've stopped cars going 90 mph and the driver said it was because someone was tailgating them or something and they were trying to get away and they didn't call it in. Well guess what, here's your ticket because I didn't see the other one. Everyone has an excuse but no one slows down. Just let them go. I would say 90% of the incidents start out because of someone driving slow or the speed limit in the passing lane. People think, well I'm going the speed limit so they can just slow down. Your right, you can unless there are signs they say passing lane only, but your just asking for problems. Avoid the situation before it occurs and let the police deal with the speeders and aggresive drivers.
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Old December 17, 2009, 10:12 AM   #9
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I listen intently to my police scanner during my 2 hrs/day commuting time.
I hear the road ragers, the crashes, the drunks, and the ladders in the road called in.

The State Patrol LOVES to intercept road ragers. Call it in!

Last edited by JohnKSa; December 18, 2009 at 01:32 AM. Reason: Removed Off Topic Remarks.
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Old December 17, 2009, 12:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ronbert
I've observed that passing lane behavior is entirely different from slow lane behavior. It's almost like two completely different roadways.

Passing lane is tailgating, pushing, cellphoning, texting, drafting, simultaneous throttle & brake .... and generally kneecaps and elbows pushing and shoving to go just a teeny bit faster.

I don't participate in that. I hang in the slow lane and watch the festivities :-)
My gas mileage is much better too.

Don't get involved in it.
Well said, Ronbert.

Oddly, this is something I've been thinking about lately, as it relates to self-defense... not so much from the standpoint of being attacked or harassed or threatened by another driver, but as a matter of overall probabilities. Here are some risk data for people in the United States:

Lifetime risk of being murdered by a handgun: about 1:360.
Lifetime risk of being murdered by any means: about 1:200.
Lifetime risk of dying in a car accident: about 1:80.

These are averages, and don't take into account that people's risk factors vary, but I think the message is fairly clear: defensive driving is as at least as important as any other self-defense measure we can take -- perhaps more so.

It's a skill like any other. Defensive driving can be practiced at the basic level of paying attention, avoiding trouble before it develops, and obeying traffic laws: boring stuff like signaling lane changes, maintaining a proper following distance, and so forth.

And there's another level: there are plenty of courses out there to improve one's skills, ranging from day-long "reminder" classes to hands-on workshops in emergency and evasive driving techniques.

If you're serious about self-defense and focus only on threats posed by violent crime, you're wearing blinders. You're in more danger from the guy with a cell phone in the car next to you than you are from hypothetical "bad guys."

(In before the lock, and all that -- it's a worthy topic, but pretty minimally firearms-related... not that I'm letting that stop me. )
Never let anything mechanical know you're in a hurry.

Last edited by Evan Thomas; December 17, 2009 at 01:01 PM.
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Old December 17, 2009, 01:41 PM   #11
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I heard a rather chilling evasion-needed call a few weeks ago. It was a relatively lightly travelled part of the interstate in the early morning.
Caller reported being followed and harassed even including taking an exit then getting back onto the interstate.

Caller was reporting this to State Patrol dispatch who was relaying to units that were very, very far away from the location and pretty much had no chance of arriving before something bad happened.

I was thinking that if it were me, my next move would be exit, re-enter the interstate then (if traffic permitted - and it easily could on that stretch at that time of day), swing around and drive the wrong way back to the exit ramp just taken..... just to see how serious this follower REALLY is. If they follow thru THAT maneuver then it would be full-on combat evasion with the events documented on the tape at dispatch. (and could justify use of deadly force if contact were made)

Never, never, ever stop to see what it is they want. You won't like it.
Oh, and be sure and don't let your tank go below 1/2. Having to stop for gas while being followed would be highly inconvenient :-)

(Ultimately the two vehicles separated without the followee getting the plate number of the harasser.)
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Old December 17, 2009, 01:53 PM   #12
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Vehicle Prep

Most cars these days have an option you can set to auto lock your doors when you begin rolling. I used to turn mine off, but not any more. I like that security and especially in my wife's car.

I always keep a hitch and ball on my truck - helps create space in parking lots, as nobody will creep up so close and kiss your bumper when they risk skewering their radiator. Same reason - in traffic - if you have to ram someone in reverse, this all but guarantees their radiator, and if you're really lucky their oil cooler - will be severely damaged. They won't be able to follow for long.

non-aggressive driving - funny but ever since i got my CCW and began to realize what it really meant, i drive slower, don't flip people off, don't even cuss at other drivers any more. In essence, i am more calm / less volatile. I don't want to have an argument that escalates into worse, so now i just don't have the arguments. For driving, this translates into staying in the travel lane except to pass - except perhaps in LA where anything goes. Don't flash your brights on the guy who just cut you off. Don't ride someone's bumper trying to make them speed up. Let people merge in front of you when that makes sense. in other words, drive with some extra courtesy.

All of the usual precautions about creating space and exit strategies are as appropriate in your car as they are on foot.

What else? Oh yeah, keep your car in good shape so if you ever really need to blast off to save your butt, the car can do it!
"To my mind it is wholly irresponsible to go into the world incapable of preventing violence, injury, crime, and death. How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness... How pathetic." - - Ted Nugent

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Old December 17, 2009, 02:37 PM   #13
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If you're really being followed on a moderately traffic'd highway you can use the traffic around you to your advantage. I was followed a year or two ago with somebody behind me and I went to pull off the highway and they followed, so I continued onwards. Next off ramp that came up I pulled into the middle lane and then right just before the off ramp I moved in front of a car in the right lane to take the exit. The follower was blocked by the car driving in the right lane and I continued my day.

Just don' hurt anybody else doing the above. You need to use all of your mirrors, have good SA, and know exactly how big your car is.
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Old December 18, 2009, 01:36 AM   #14
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Comments/posts need to relate to driving as it applies to tactics/self-defense/etc.

Comments/posts relating to driving in general (how fast people should drive/how fast it's safe to drive in general, what lane they should drive in, what kind of fun things you can do with cars, etc.) are off topic.
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Old December 18, 2009, 06:56 AM   #15
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I think an officer is best to comment in this section as they drive all the time and have probably driven in a self defensive manner in the past OR at least they might have seen techniques others have used.
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Old December 18, 2009, 09:08 AM   #16
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Allow me to recommend the book Drive to Survive, by Curt Rich. Curt is a shooter, and he begins his treatise with all the same premises we as intelligent gun owners hold with regard to self defense. He says (in essence--I don't have my copy in front of me), "We put a lot of effort into learning how to handle a firearm for defensive purposes; let's apply the same thinking to how we drive a car."

On the strength of a single reading, I changed my driving habits. Simple things, like where to position your outside mirrors, how to handle the steering wheel, and how far back to stop from the vehicle in front of you. Good stuff.
Cogito, ergo armatus sum.
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Old December 18, 2009, 10:44 AM   #17
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Ram your way out.
I totally agree. Too many people are afraid to do this because we have all been taught to not hit anything. The SUV/truck/van drivers have the advantage here. Roll up, make contact, then floor it!!!

I would rather deal with the cops for leaving the scene than have them respond to a shooting.
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Old December 18, 2009, 02:17 PM   #18
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As there are skills to combat shooting like isometric force on the grip of the handgun to control recoil, trigger squeeze, shooting center of mass, aimed pairs, speed loads, and more; there are skills to defensive driving like hitting a late apex in turns, heel/toe braking and shifting, being able to do 180 degree turns to back out of trouble spots fast, being able to listen to your tires "talk" and more.

This is in addition to the valuable points made in the previous posts.
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Old December 18, 2009, 02:18 PM   #19
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NY has now put some teeth into drunk driver laws.
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Old December 19, 2009, 12:31 AM   #20
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There might be dramatic consequences to ramming another vehicle such as you getting charged with vehicular assault or giving the other person a reason to open fire on your vehicle...
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Old December 19, 2009, 12:55 AM   #21
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There might be dramatic consequences to ramming another vehicle such as you getting charged with vehicular assault or giving the other person a reason to open fire on your vehicle...
It's using deadly force, just like shooting is. If the use of deadly force in self-defense is warranted then ramming is warranted.

As always when deadly force is used, one must be sure that it's immediately necessary to prevent serious injury or death in order to remain within the law.
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Old December 19, 2009, 05:07 AM   #22
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A family friend was travelling from one city to the other with his family. He was stopped by highway bandits so he ran over two of them. After travelling 50-60 kms or so the LE guys had the road blocked for him & booked him for hit & run.

He actually had to NEGOTIATE with those bandits & their accomplices face-to-face having it settled out of the court.
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