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Drive Smart

by John M. Carpino

Every day of the week someone somewhere falls victim to a bad guy while going about their daily routine. Don't let your guard down. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, especially if you are traveling in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Make sure you give yourself enough time to reach your destination and you won't be in a hurry. Being in a rush will only cause you to become frustrated and may cause you to drive in a reckless fashion. Remember the Rules of the road.

I don't want you to be paranoid, but you need to be prepared for any situation while traveling on a highway or even in your own neighborhood. Follow the steps below to help you be prepared for an emergency.

Get directions before you set out to a new destination. Use either a map source via the Internet, or call ahead to the local police department requesting directions from a major highway in the area.

Keep your doors locked and remember to wear your seat belt at all times.

If you are bumped by another motor vehicle and suspect something is out of sorts, drive to an area where people are present or use your cell phone to summon the police. Bad guys have been known to use this minor collision to lure you out of your car. Bad guys don't wear a sign on them and may appear to be legitimate people that blend in the community.

If someone is approaching your motor vehicle on foot and you are stopped in traffic, make sure your windows are shut. Be prepared to make a maneuver to move out of the stopped traffic in order to get away from this person.  He may be prepared to smash out the passenger window in order to steal your purse which is probably on the seat. Also be aware of the fact that young males have been known to commit acts of vehicular high-jacking as an initiation into a street gang. If things go from bad to worse, and you can't drive away, start blowing your horn to draw attention to you.

Consider purchasing a remote controlled panic alarm. These alarms can be installed inexpensively and allow you to sound the horn or a siren if someone comes up on you while you are approaching your car.

Just because you are traveling in a neighborhood you believe to be crime free, don't let your guard down. Bad guys like to travel outside of their neighborhood as they have stolen almost everything there is to steal in theirs. The police know them on a first name basis and they know nice people like you are not expecting anything to happen in "their neighborhood".

If you break down use your cell phone to call for assistance, don't approach strangers asking for assistance!

Remember to get prior directions and don't stop in strange places asking for directions. The nice guy who offers to lead you to the address your are looking for may lead you into an alley and take advantage of you.

If you see something that appears to be suspicious or out of the ordinary, simply call the police and make them aware of it. The police can't be at all places at all times. I know we are never there when you need us, heard it a few times in my career. We need your help. You are the community and need to take a stand and get involved for what does or doesn't happen in your community.

If you see someone in distress call the police using 911 if available, don't assume the next guy is going to call. You be the next guy, as several probably have already passed up the person in need.

You don't need to stop and offer to help, just make the call. Stopping to help a stranger may be just another way to lure you into a situation that can go from you being a good samaritan to you being a victim of a crime in a heart beat.

If you decide to stop and help be prepared for things to go bad, this way if everything goes OK. At least you were prepared for the worst.

As a police officer I have no problem with stopping, as I have on several occasions with my family, but being a police officer leaves me in a position to deal with these types of matters. If I can't stop and help someone in need while off duty then who can.

Take charge in your community and support your local police. Check with your local police and see if they have a neighborhood watch program in place. You can make a difference. You took the time to read this crime prevention information, now take the time and get involved!

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