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Safety tips when driving

MSNBC's Clint Van Zandt offers the following tips to remain safe when driving:

When in a parking lot

  • When in a parking lot, look at the cars parked on either side of your vehicle. If a male in a vehicle is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, or if you are parked next to a van, always enter your car from the side opposite the strange vehicle.
  • If the parking lot is particularly dark or deserted, it may be wise to go back and find a friend or guard who can walk you to your car.
  • Don't be the last person out of a location and be forced to walk alone in a dark and/or nearly empty parking lot and look in your vehicle’s back seat to insure no one is hiding there before you enter, then get in your vehicle and lock your doors immediately.

When It's Too Late

  • If you are in a violent situation, the most important thing is to react immediately. Never Get Into a Stranger's Car. Even if he has a gun or knife. Run, fight do whatever you can to stay out of that car because you are statistically "dead" if he gets you in there.
  • Run, Run, Run. If the predator has a gun but you are not under his control, take off running. Even if the predator shoots at you, he is not likely to be a trained marksman and when operating under stress conditions, the likelihood of being hit is small.  And even then, it most likely will not be a vital organ, and he will leave you as he flees the location. Put as much distance between you and your assailant as you can and don't be a willing or compliant victim.
  • Stay Put. Do not let your attacker take you to an abandoned area. If he does, the likelihood that you will be seriously injured increases tenfold. You do not want to get to "crime scene number two," so do whatever it takes and never, never give up.

Hit the Attacker Where It Counts

  • The eyes, knees, throat and groin are very vulnerable, good places to gouge and kick. But listen to your instincts and try to determine if a counter attack by you is the best approach. If you do decide to fight, make sure your first move is as forceful as possible. It may be your only hope.

Try Anything and Everything

  • Additional approaches are offering your wallet, jumping out at a stoplight, doing something to cause a vehicle accident, or signaling to other drivers. If you are thrown into the trunk of a car, experts advise you to kick out the back tail lights, stick your arm out the hole, and start waving wildly. The driver won't see you but everyone else will. This trick is said to have saved lives.

Victim Profile

  • The #1 thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not as common targets.
  • Assailants also look for women on their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

Where Attacks Take Place

  • The number one place women are abducted from or attacked is at a grocery store parking lot. Number two is office parking lots/garages, and number three is public restrooms. These assailants are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second, secluded location where they don't have to worry about getting being seen or caught. Only 2% of the rapists interviewed said they carried weapons because rape carries a 3-5 year sentence but rape with a weapon is 15-20 years. Therefore, if you put up any kind of a fight at all, your assailant may become discouraged, this as it only takes a minute or two for him/them to realize that going after you isn't worth it because it will be time-consuming. The rapists interviewed said they will not pick on women who have umbrellas or other similar objects in their hands that can be used from a distance. Keys are not necessarily a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon, but they may be better than nothing. So, the idea is to convince these guys you're too tough of a victim.

Clint Van Zandt is a former FBI Agent, behavioral profiler and hostage negotiator as well as an MSNBC Analyst. His web site provides readers with the opportunity to obtain free security related information as well as a free copy of Clint's DVD, "Protecting Children from Predators," a valuable source of information as our children enter the summer months.