Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Traveling Securely - A new "Bakers Dozen"

A Baker’s Dozen Tips ™ To Traveling Securely by Nathan Barton and John Farnham © 2004

With the increased difficulty in using public transportation (planes and trains), more Americans are driving greater distances than ever. However, both in cities and other areas, there are threats to you and your property while traveling. There are a few simple items to reduce the risk and to be able to respond if a threat arises:
1. Ensure that you have basic equipment for responding to emergencies in your vehicle. Some of the equipment you should ALWAYS have: first-aid kit (trauma type), warning triangles and/or flashers, purified water (for drinking, cleaning, and emergency fluids replacement), paper and pencil, food (including candy or other items with sugar), and vehicle maintenance equipment (such as tire gauge, tire-changing equipment, spare, and owner’s manual).
2. Ensure that you vary your emergency equipment in your vehicle based on changing seasons and the area in which you are traveling. Seasonal equipment may include additional water, blankets or sleeping bags, snow shovel, suntan lotion, hats, coats, and raingear.
3. When parking your vehicle, make sure that you put away or cover items that might be a temptation to people to break in and steal. Also cover or put away items that may be damaged by the sun or heat. And of course, be sure you lock your car at all times when you are not in the vehicle.
4. Don’t leave children, animals, or other items in your vehicle, which may be damaged by extremes of heat or cold.
5. When traveling in heavy stop-and-go traffic, especially in central urban areas, keep doors locked and windows rolled up (as much as possible) to prevent someone from entering your vehicle without permission, or from throwing something into (or snatching something from) your vehicle.
6. Always inspect the exterior of your vehicle before getting in and driving, to check for damage (especially in a parking lot), broken lights, low or flat tires, and other problems.
7. When receiving your car back from a maintenance provider, in addition to checking to make sure that repairs were done as invoiced, and that key items are present and have been correctly replaced, also check that an excessive amount of mileage has not been used on the odometer.
Make sure that your registration, insurance information, and tags/stickers are all current, and have not been tampered with. When receiving replacements, check to make sure all information is correct. Whenever possible, do NOT put a street address on your various papers: instead use a post office box.
8. If you carry a pistol in your vehicle (a strong recommendation), make sure that it is convenient to reach if needed, that it is not visible from outside the vehicle, and that it is stored securely where it will not be dislodged in case of a sudden stop or accident. Ensure that you know what laws apply in states through which you travel.
9. If stopped by a patrolman or police officer, verify that the person really is a police officer before letting them take your documents or get into their vehicle. If possible, arrange thorough an auto club or other service to have a “bond” for minor traffic offenses, to avoid having to post large cash bails or pay large fines.
10. When you see an accident or what appears like an accident, if possible report the accident to an emergency dispatcher before stopping to assist, in case problems develop. When approaching the accident scene, keep a good distance to avoid problems with debris from the accident, attempts to seize your vehicle, and to allow emergency response vehicles adequate access, as well as pulling off the driving lane far enough for your own safety.
11. Especially before beginning a long trip or traveling to remote areas, check for adequate fuel, oil, radiator fluid, other fluids, spare tire, tire-changing equipment, and working lights, including turn signals.
12. If stopped and asked by law enforcement to voluntarily submit to a search, refuse to do so without a search warrant. If searching is done, politely express that you are allowing such under threat of force, and observe the searching as closely as possible. Request a written copy of anything that they claim to have found.
13. Your automobile should be as much your castle as your home, but the law does not always recognize that fact. Plan for that situation, and be prepared for whatever might happen.

© 2004 Information, Incorporated. Free for distribution without change and with all copyright notices intact. For corrections and ideas, please contact: This does NOT constitute legal advice or professional advice/consulting of any type, and the author is not responsible for any misuse of this information or errors contained herein.

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