Safety in Your Car

By Kellene Bishop
Car jacking photo c/o

Car jacking photo c/o

As a nation overall, we don’t walk much. Sure we walk to and from our cars, but usually we’re in the vehicles when we’re going somewhere. As a result, the poor criminals who would normally hold you up in the back alley are starving. So they’ve taken to the brazen act of holding people up in their cars, car jacking, and “bumping” cars in order to get someone out of their car for a more vulnerable attack. Some have even gone so far as to obtain red and blue flashing lights and make you think you’re being pulled over by law enforcement. As such, I feel it’s appropriate to give you some good advice to strengthen your safety in your car.

  • Safety in Your Car Rule #1: Always keep sufficient room between you and the car in front of you when you’re stopped at a light or a stop sign. This way, if you have trouble come up to your window, you have an escape route. We are in such a habit of getting right on someone’s tail at a stop light. This simply boxes us in with extreme vulnerability in the event of an attempted hijack or robbery while you’re in your car.
  • 9mm and 40 caliber bulletholes through a car door. Photo c/o

    9mm and 40 caliber bulletholes through a car door. Photo c/o

    Safety in Your Car Rule #2: Have the firearm handy. Having your firearm in your purse or glove box is not going to do you a lick of good in defending yourself against a would-be robber at your car door. The best place is on your body on your front or side. Others have been successful putting it in a Velcro type holder right behind their steering wheel or attached to the front of their seat as well.  If you’re going to have the tools to protect yourself, you might as well have the access to these tools. Also, don’t be afraid to shoot through the door so long as you’re shooting a 9mm or higher caliber. If you need to shoot you don’t need to roll down the window. That would be a precious waste of time. May I suggest however, that you try to go to a junk yard where there are cars and get permission to shoot a firearm from the drivers seat in the car? The sound and experience is a bit more rattling that what you experience at the range, so it’s good to at least have experienced it on some level. (By all means, use your hearing protection. It will still give you an idea of what to expect should you need to shoot from within your car.)

  • Safety in Your Car Rule #3: When you park your car, be aware of potential escape routes. I like to park my car where a simple jump on the pedal will take me to safety. If I’m parked facing the building I’m shopping at, that’s not possible. If you must park near the building, do so with the back of your car facing it, not your front.
  • Safety in Your Car Rule #4: If you insist on storing your firearm in your purse, then when you are asked for your wallet, reach into your purse calm and coolly and then grip your firearm. Shoot it from within your purse aimed at your friendly neighborhood robber. Play it dumb. Play it vulnerable. Play it freaked out. But be conscious of what your purpose is—to get out alive and to not be taken to another location. Shooting from within your purse is easier when you have a revolver, but if you have a semi-auto, you will be able to get off at least one round. So make it count. This means that you may need to rethink WHERE you are stowing your firearm in your purse. If it’s in the little outside zipper that you have to dig into in order to retrieve your firearm, then it’s in the WRONG spot. Shoot, then get the heck out of there.
  • Photo c/o
    Photo c/o

    Safety in Your Car Rule #5: When you’re pulled over, even by law enforcement, you have the right to feel and be safe. If you have any alarms going off in your head/gut, then you should NOT get out of the car, NOT roll down the window and NOT engage in a conversation until you have verified with a law enforcement source (via your telephone) that this person pulling you over is the real deal. Call 9-1-1 and verify that this person is who they say they are. Once you’ve dialed, tuck the phone under your chin and keep your hands visible on the wheel while you speak to the person on the phone, in order to show the officer that you are complying, you’re just being safe. Even while you’re dialing, keep the car in drive, and your foot on the brake, just in case this person is not who they are pretending to be. Just so you know, it’s HIGHLY unusual for a plain-clothes law enforcement officer to pull you over. You should always at least have the benefit of seeing a uniform. Just because you’re getting pulled over, doesn’t mean you should let down your guard.

  • Safety in Your Car Rule #6: In the event that you think you are being followed, take 3 right hand turns. Ideally you will want to take 4 right hand turns so that you’re back in the original direction you were going. But if a car follows you after 3 right hand turns, you have undoubtedly confirmed that you are being followed and you should call the police or drive to the nearest police station. There have actually been quite a few instances in which driving to a local police station have saved someone’s life.
  • Safety in Your Car Rule #7: Get in the habit of looking at your tires and your back seat each time you get into your car. You want to check for damage to your tires that may have been instigated in order to waylay you as perfect prey for a criminal and you want to make sure that you don’t have any hitchhikers in your vehicle. If you do see a tire problem or notice someone hiding in your car, go back to the safety of the building that you came out of and call the police or the towing company. Do I really need to tell you to always park in well-lit places too?

Hopefully these 7 points will get you thinking how you can be safer when traveling and using your car. I also hope that you may start looking around you in more circumstances and determine what you back-up self-defense plan is—just in case.

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.


9 Responses

  1. Safety in your car Rule # 1.5: In addition to leaving space between your car and the car in front of you (tip: if you can see pavement between the bottom of the rear tires of the car in front and the front edge of your hood, you have room to drive around the car in front) avoid the center lane of 6-lane roads. In the curb lane or the median lane you have an escape route – in the curb lane drive over the curb and down the sidewalk. In the median lane drive down the median to get away or across it to go the other direction.

    When your life is threatened there are no rules: if you scrape another car getting away don’t worry about it. When you call the police from a safe location they can sort it out.

    Rule #1.6: the first one to call 911 gets to establish the narrative. As soon as you’re in a safe location – meaning RFN – call 911.

    Rule # 1.65: If you’re on the phone in traffic you’re giving up 35-45% of your brain capacity to the conversation and not paying attention to what’s going on around you. Hang up the phone.

    Rule #1.7: In traffic, especially while stopped, don’t stare out the windshield waiting for th ecar in front to move. Swivel your head, look out the side windows, check the mirrors. If you can see a threat coming you can avoid it early and not have to deal with it when it becomes a real threat.

    Rule #1.75: When driving, crowd the center line or the line dividing the lanes. That allows you to see down the lane(s) 25, 50, 100 yards and anticipate what’s going on way in front of you. Most people stare at the car directly in front of them. Five-ten seconds warning about what’s going to happen around you allows you to better control braking, keep more space around your car and better anticipate what you need to do to preserve your secure position and maintain escape/evade options.

  2. You don’t want to roll the window down, because the glass used in car door windows is actually pretty good ballistic protection–which you do NOT to give the bad guy.

  3. Kellene,

    Great article. I’ve had my CCW for several years now and I get constant training/advice from my husband who is a firearms instructor with a large fed law enforcement agency. We have recently moved to a part of the country where armed carjackings are a daily occurence – glad this state allows concealed carry or I’d never leave the house! 🙂 I do many of things you suggest in this article but I always thought that meant I was paranoid, so it’s good to hear that someone else thinks it’s okay to be so vigilant. I really appreciate your point of view and wish more women would be vocal/visible about their views on this topic. People need to know that we’re not all a bunch of gun nuts – we are normal everyday responsible people who carry because we love our families and love our freedom, and not because we are fascinated with firearms. We need to retain the right to defend ourselves – losing that would set women’s rights back several centuries. Thank you for being a voice of reason and source of good advice!

    Warm regards,

  4. Even more basic:

    1. Lock the doors the moment you get in.
    Don’t rely on your fancy car computer that locks the doors when you get moving up to 10 or 15mph. People do get ambushed backing out of their garages or pulling out of parking spots. Lock them right away and then situate yourself for driving.

    2. Disable auto-unlock if your car has the feature. Unlock the doors when you’re ready to get out, not when you put the car in park or remove the keys. Yes it’s an extra manual step, but you wouldn’t want your doors to “magically” unlock at the worst possible moment would you?

    • I wholeheartedly give your comments an AMEN, Evan! My husband, even though he’s a security freak, keeps getting frustrated that I don’t have the doors on auto un-lock. Not gonna happen. I want to be in control of when those doors unlock, period.
      When I get in the car, I grab the seat belt and swoop to lock the door as I’m buckling the belt. When you live in a big carjacking area, locking your door becomes second nature.

  5. These are some very good points for both men and women alike.

  6. When I pull into my driveway, I stop immediately when i clear the road. That way no one can pull in right behind me and block me. I’m on a busy street, so if they stop in the street, they have bigger problems than I could give them. Then I use the garage door opener and don’t go into the garage until it is fully open and I can quickly go in and close it.

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