Monday, June 6, 2016

Tactical Driving: A Few Tips

I had an opportunity to take a combat driving course several years ago. This was before the Iraq and Afghanistan war and the massive problem convoys have over there with IED’s and ambushes.
We learned a lot about going backwards. Backing up fast is hard and, if not done correctly, dangerous. Cars are designed to go forward, not backward. Automobile suspensions possess a quality known as caster, the force that gives the car stability going forward and helps to straighten out the front wheels after turning a corner. Unfortunately, this same force destabilizes the car in reverse, and the tires won't straighten themselves out.
Once you loosen your grip, the steering wheel stays in its last position. There is nothing you can do about caster. You need to understand that it's there, live with it and learn to control it.
So, before you find yourself in a dangerous place needing to leave very fast, practice backing up, paying attention to the following tips.

1. Tape the steering wheel. With the front wheels pointed straight, put a piece of tape on the top of the steering wheel. When it's time to back up, put your hand on the tape and lock your arm. The tape will provide a reference point for straight if you start to lose control. (Nascar drivers do this.)
2. Take time to practice moving the gear lever from drive to reverse and reverse to drive without looking. It may seem trivial, but not having to look buys you precious time and helps you avoid accidentally shifting into park, neutral or a low gear.
3. Practice with heavy loads. Why? Because vehicles in high-risk zones are often heavily loaded in the back or laden with armor, which makes them less stable when backing up.

Once you need to back up out of a high-risk zone, use the following techniques.
1. Just go. Put as much distance between you and the kill zone as possible by backing up straight as fast as you can and as far as you can. Backing up at 30 mph creates 45 feet of distance between you and the enemy every second. Three seconds takes you 135 feet away from the problem. But if you hesitate for 1.5 seconds, you have given up about 68 feet of space. Even if there is an opportunity to turn in a short distance, don't. Turning slows you down and exposes your broadside.
2. Slow down for obstacles. Eventually, something will be in your way, and you must slow down for it. Because of caster, it doesn't take much to flip a vehicle moving in reverse. A vehicle that can drive around an obstacle at 60 mph going forward will lose control at 20 mph in reverse.
3. Left is best. When you have to turn, turn to the left, or driver's side, if you can. Turning to the right, the passenger side is more difficult spatially. If you must turn right, use your side mirrors to guide you. But remember, the increased energy pushing on the vehicle is double the increase in speed during a turn. Accelerating from 20 mph to 25 mph means 50 percent more energy pushing on the vehicle.
4. Modify your three-point turn. The police version of the three-point turn won't work in a high-risk environment because it requires the driver to drive forward—toward the kill zone—then back up.

When you park do you think about staging your vehicle? If you’re thinking defensively you will park your chief mode of transportation in a way where you can leave quickly.
Preparation is taking the time and money to be ready for many different incidents that could happen. Taking the extra time to back into your driveway or garage is well worth the rewards.
When backing out of a parking space your field of view is severely limited looking through a rear-view mirror and can cause you to miss oncoming traffic, people walking, etc.
Going forward because you backed in, you have a greater field of view and better use of your peripheral vision, which is beneficial.
Something you may have to repeat to yourself is “keep your head on a swivel.” This will help you stay focused and always watching everything. This goes for whether you’re at a restaurant, walking your dog or driving a vehicle. We should always be trying to stay aware of our surroundings and possible threats, but at the same time not drawing attention to ourselves.
By tactically parking, you gain an advantage of being more aware of what’s around you at all times and facing any possible threats. There’s just something you lose when backing out. Make yourself back into your driveway or parking spot next time you come home, you’ll see what I mean when you go to leave.
The last and definitely not least important reason to tactically park is simply being able to quickly leave your location. It’s much faster to jump in a vehicle, and immediately pull out, rather than having to reverse out into traffic. Not to mention safer.
This goes for whether you may have to leave during an emergency situation where seconds count, or could even be for those situations someone is chasing you. If you play out scenarios “What would happen if I had to leave in a hurry?” “What if I was being chased?” When you start thinking this way it will be a no-brainer that you should tactically park.
One thing you won’t or should never see in Secret Service or executive protection work is backing out with a VIP. It’s like walking backwards into a room to clear it, you’d never do that would you? Always face potential incoming threats.

Semper Paratus
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