The discouraging thing about writing an article like this is that those who really need it aren’t aware they need it. If you know someone that does and I’m sure you do, maybe you could pass this along.
In our CHL (soon to be called LTC) classes, we touch on Awareness. We go into it a little more in the Advanced Concealed Carry and Refuse to be a Victim classes. I think it needs to be taught as a way of life beginning in at least Middle School. It’s not a “gun” thing. And it’s about more than personal safety, though that’s a big part of it. Some of it is about a rapidly dwindling character trait in today’s society — common courtesy.
Practically every day of my life I take actions to accommodate people who just aren’t paying attention. I’m sure you do, too. Before getting into the safety aspect of awareness I’m going to list a few of these failure to pay attention actions that are just plain courtesy. If you’re doing this stuff, STOP IT!
- In a drive-thru, it can be a bank teller, an ATM or fast food, it doesn’t matter. I’m number two at the window. Number one took a while to place their order, but that’s okay, Everybody wants their food right. It’s just that some people decide what they’re going to order before getting in the drive-thru. But we’re past that point now. Whatever it is, food, money, now it has been delivered, and it’s my turn! Me, back here in the car behind you, waiting patiently. I expect car number one to drive off, or at least to pull up so I can get my business done. But, no. It appears the driver of car number one had unfastened their seat belt and is now searching for it to re-buckle. Now, they are rearranging whatever is on the front seat. It looks like they are putting some stuff away in the glove compartment. Ready to move? Oops, not yet. Are you kidding me? Did she just pull the visor down and used the mirror to check her lipstick. That done, I’m sure it’s my turn at the drive-thru. But not yet! Something is wrong with how the wallet went back into the purse. That has to be fixed. Oh, and the mirrors need to be readjusted. Surely when doing that, she noticed that someone is behind her! Finally after what seems like 5 minutes, the car ahead of me drives off. During this whole time he/she never thought about the car behind them and how easy it would be to pull up a little, maybe even into a parking place and take care of all the adjustments so the next car in line can take care of business.
- I am on the street at a traffic light with a right turn lane angling off and right turn on red allowed. I want to turn right. But the car in front of me is 10 feet back from the one ahead of it. If the driver would pull up just 2 or 3 of those 10 feet, I can make my turn and be on the way. But, they’re even aware that I’m back here. This is not just a right turn issue. It could involve trying to merge into a lane of traffic from another while at a standstill, or any number of places where if a driver would simply look around them they would see the need to help someone else out a little simply by pulling up a few feet.
- Now that we’re on the street, let’s talk about traffic lights. You drive the same route every day. Would it be too hard to learn the sequence of the lights so that when your turn to go is coming up, you can put your phone down (yes, put it down!) and get ready for the change, instead of waiting for the car or cars behind you to honk to let you know that the light has changed. Oh, and because they are nice people, they actually waited a bit to see if you would notice, but since you didn’t, you made it through at the tail end of the yellow light, but they didn’t. Another full cycle they have to wait because you weren’t paying attention.
You get my drift, these are mostly about courtesy, though that thing about the phone and driving is a whole lot more. If you continue to text and drive, I’m going to consider it Assault with a Deadly Weapon when you venture over into my lane and take steps to defend myself!
We teach Awareness in our classes for your safety. We start by telling you to be aware of your surroundings and to be aware of the people around you. There’s a lot more to this than I can cover in this one article, but allow me to share some basics that might help keep you alive:
- Keep your chin up and head on a swivel no matter where you are. Staring at that little screen in your hand all the time is dangerous. You don’t know who around you may be wanting you or what you have and can get really close without you realizing it. Or when you might be about to walk into the path of an oncoming bus or into a pool of water.
- When you enter a room, make note of the exits and places to hide in case that room becomes the type of madhouse that could result from a crazy person or persons on the rampage, whether with a gun or not. If you’re not familiar with the old concept of how a gunfighter never sits with his back to the saloon door, I suggest you adapt something similar. Sit where you have your back close to a wall, if possible, and where you can see the bulk of the room and especially the entrances. That way you can’t be caught totally of guard by a dangerous situation.
- Walking or jogging, please always do this on the side of the street facing traffic. Personally, I’d prefer seeing you pick a jogging path or sidewalk or at least some lightly traveled streets. But you know what I see far too often? A walker or jogger with their back to me when I approach in my car, which means they are moving with traffic rather than against it, with headphones on, listening to music, so they can’t even hear the cars approach from behind them, often wearing dark colored clothing and doing this in the dim light of evening or early morning. This is STUPID! I don’t know how these people missed the safety classes taught in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, schools, or, wait, maybe they don’t teach this stuff anymore. Okay what about some common sense. I got into an argument about this one time with a relative, who was so mixed up. She thought she was supposed to follow the same rules that the cars do. That’s not the case, please, be careful out there.
- Here’s something else I see that just amazes me. A driver is sitting number one at a traffic light. The light changes so that they have a green light. Without looking left, without look right, they start right off into the intersection. OMG! People run red lights! They run red lights! Look in both directions before moving into an intersection, please!
- My father taught me a lot of things about driving that aren’t taught anymore. I took driver’s education after I got my license because it resulted in my parents having a lower insurance rate. The Driver’s Education instructor echoed what my dad taught me. One was the thing I mentioned earlier about understanding the traffic light signals so you’re ready to go when they change. Another thing was when you’re turning off a main road into a side road or parking lot, you do not need to, and should not, slow down to a crawl before exiting the main road. That causes people behind you to have to slam on their brakes, which results in a domino effect down the line. Keep your speed up, make your turn and after you’re off the main road, then readjust your hands on the steering wheel or whatever you need to do to proceed on in the new direction. Try it. I promise you can do this.
I think I’ll quit. With these few items I’ve mentioned you can get started onto a life of Awareness and even Situational Awareness. Please do.