Cade's Corner: My Preparedness Tips for Driving Emergencies

If you’re like me, you’ve been driving for a lot of years. But even though it might be familiar, you need to take it seriously. Every time. 

Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or a 2,000-mile road trip, there are a dozen things that could happen that could put you in a life or death situation. Will you be prepared?

Here are just a few scenarios to ponder:  breakdowns, road rage, stuck in snow, out of gas, carjacking.

They can all be easily rectified or avoided with the proper preparation.  

  • NEVER let your vehicle get below one-half a tank of fuel.
  • Practice changing a tire and have your family join. You would be amazed how many people have never done this. And it’s great to know where the jack kit is and if you have everything you need BEFORE you need it.
  • In your trunk, have a bug-out bag, water, non-perishable food (72-hour Survival Food Kit is ideal), HaloXT Flashlight, first-aid kit (with surgical gloves and mask), gloves, rain jacket, wool socks, winter hat, boots, knife/multi-tool, lighter or fire starter, chains (winter climate), maps of the local area if your cell phone goes down, Patriot Power Cell, emergency contacts, and tool kit (including at least a wrench, screwdrivers and hammer). 
  • Inside your vehicle, have additional preparedness items. Bear spray (in addition to a handgun if that’s your choice), extra key in glove box, sunglasses, sunscreen, water, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. 

During the last seven years, out of all 315,000 people who died in traffic accidents, 48,200 of those deaths are directly related to aggressive driving.

Defensive Driving – Expect the Worst

Let’s face it, there surely seems to be more bad drivers on the road than good ones, which only adds to the necessity of being an extra diligent driver. Don’t forget that car accidents are the number one cause of accidental deaths in America. Defensive driving is the combination of situational awareness and utilizing a set of driving skills. You need to be aware of all of your surroundings.

Defensive Driving Checklist:

  • Scan the road ahead and plan for the unexpected.
  • Have an eye on any and all vehicle signals, indicators and brake lights.
  • Be able to control your speed – don’t drive too fast or too slowly.
  • Expect other drivers to make mistakes and be prepared to react. 
  • Be aware of driving in special roads and weather conditions. 
  • Avoid “car bunches.” That’s when moving cars are bottlenecked, going at regular speed yet occupying all lanes.
  • While driving behind large vehicles, keep your line of sight clear. 
  • Scan the road for any bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians, potholes and animals.
  • Always maintain an exit route by keeping at least a two-second gap (buffer zone) from the vehicle in front of you and space on both sides of your vehicle free.
  • Be very familiar where your hazard lights button is. Use it when approaching a potential trouble spot.
  • Never drive in someone’s blind spot.  

The last tip above is the most important when it comes to defensive driving. By maintaining distance from other vehicles, it will give you time and options on how to avoid and react.

Mental Toughness - Discipline

The automobile is a powerful machine and a driver’s license is a privilege that expects you to be responsible while operating a vehicle. Even small fender-benders result in a loss of time and hassles, but a serious car accident could be life-changing, rendering you or someone else disabled or dead. 

When challenged, be it walking on the street or while driving, it’s natural to want to take these people on, especially when they are basically using their car to insult and disrespect you. You need to be mentally tough. 

Admittedly, the art of “letting it go” is one that I clearly have not yet entirely mastered. There have been more than a few times when I have implemented combat breathing to bring the agitation meter back down. 

It’s a simple exercise in which you inhale for four seconds then exhale for four seconds. Repeat until you feel the calming effects of more oxygen in your body as well as removing your mind from the situation by counting. Understand that the split-second decisions you make while driving cannot only affect you but everyone around you.  

The simple act of tailgating the teenage driver, as a form of retaliation for cutting you off, could quickly compound into a mass fatality accident. Inhale four seconds, exhale four seconds… let it go.

Be a survivor, not a statistic,

Cade Courtley
Former Navy SEAL / 4Patriots Contributor


  • Mary WHitaker - October 09, 2020

    Great article on driving tips, always good the be reminded. I liked the breathing technique

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