We have seen this in a thousand movies, twice as many TV shows and even the endless “live car chases” that the broadcast media loves to play out. But what is the reality? What should we be prepared to do?
So you’re in your bug out vehicle and you suspect you’re being followed. What should you do? How should you lose your tail?
Once you suspect someone is following you, do not drive directly towards your intended destination especially if this is your home or bug out location even if it is adequately equipped to provide you with good levels of defenses. The guys following you would take note of this location and come back with enough backup and firepower to overthrow your position and take all your supplies and possibly worse.
The first thing you want to do is to determine if you are indeed being followed. This can be easily achieved if you are in an area with several short roads. Your strategy will be to take 4 consecutive right turns (or left turns) such that you perform a complete circle (well actually a square). It is highly unlikely that anyone would perform such a maneuver since it brings you back to the same location. Thus if the car following you makes the same consecutive turns, then it’s very likely that you are being followed. On the other hand if you are on the highway or any long stretch of road, it will not be possible to perform the 4 consecutive turns. Instead you have to make significant changes in your cruising speed and analyze how the following car reacts. Say you’re going at 60 mph. Change lane and reduce your speed to 40 mph. If the following car mimics your change, drive for a few minutes at 40 mph then raise your speed to 70 mph. If the car matches your speed and move it’s very probable that you’re being followed.
What to Do if You’re Being Followed
This will all depend on what vehicle you’re driving, what vehicle the pursuers are driving and what measures you have prepared for this situation. If the situation is not bugging out then head for the nearest police station and drive on into the parking lot. If you are followed then this will bring things to a head quickly. Hit the horn and take a defensive position, and let the cops know about it. Let them draw weapons first and address the following vehicle. If it is a bug-out then forget the police station, they will be busy elsewhere.
Since the majority of us don’t have the luxury of owning an armored vehicle or a vehicle that has been outfitted (armor plates, bullet-resistant glass, etc.) for use when the SHTF, I’ll base these strategies on the assumption that you’ll be driving your average car; i.e. a sedan or SUV that you use for driving to work and dropping your kids at school. You might also be riding a motorcycle in which case your best strategy would be to use speed and narrow roads to your advantage. However drive within your skills because if you fail you’ll have made it way too easy for your pursuers to take from you whatever they want. Another assumption I’ll make is that there will be one person driving your vehicle while one or more persons are busy handling the defenses. All of the strategies I list below can be adapted to a situation where there is only the driver in the vehicle. This however makes the strategies more difficult to accomplish and less effective.
One of the most convenient ways to stop a car from pursuing you is to make sure that you have some form of firearm with you in your vehicle. In this case, the bigger the caliber and the faster the rate of fire, the better. A pistol (9 mm or bigger) or a shotgun would be a good start, but an assault rifle chambered in .223 or larger would be ideal. If your pursuers are not shooting at your vehicle, then you have a choice. Brandishing a weapon may make them go away or start shooting, and it is a crime in most states. Shooting first suddenly makes you the aggressor. The choice may determine who lives. If they are shooting at you first and foremost do not expose yourself. Have you ever tried to fire a weapon effectively from a moving vehicle? It is way more complicated that it looks in the movies, and as you are moving you are continuously changing the lines of fire, the potential to harm others not involved, and to make a bad situation very much worse.
On the other hand, stopping to make a stand makes you a much easier target. While this only works in the movies, the reality is, at some point, this may become the only option as you can only assume they are persistent and hope they will run out of gas before you do, or, more likely, you have a crash and now you at your most vulnerable.
No matter the position of fire, should it come to that, there is the position that you could fire at their tires. Slow them down or stop their vehicle because shooting at the engine will not stop the car, unless you’re equipped with 50 cal BMG rounds or bigger. You might damage the radiator but it will take a considerable time for the engine to overheat enough to seize the engine. Of course this mentality is akin to those who feel that the police or a citizen being attacked should simply shoot the gun out of the hands of the assailant, you know, like they do in the movies. Reality is you are going to engage it all, the tires, the engine, the windshield and especially anyone hanging out aiming a gun and getting out armed with anything.
Make Them Skid
A favorite of the movies, you can throw some lubricant to make their car skid. Again unlike movies, you need quite a large amount of lubricant and it is better used while negotiating a curve since a car is unlikely to skid while going in a straight line. For this technique to be effective you need to keep a decent supply of lubricant (hydraulic oil or engine oil mixed with diesel) in a container that has a large opening which will allow you to deploy all of the contents at once. A two gallon bucket sealed with a lid would do the trick. Now who pours it and out of what window? Additionally you have to keep in mind that this bucket will be taking up valuable space in your vehicle so I’d rather forgo this piece of Hollywood magic for a more space saving option.
Caltrops are antipersonnel weapons composed of four spikes arranged in such a way that one of the spikes always points up. Caltrops for use against vehicles are made of hollow tubes such that once the tire has been pierced air will escape through the tube. They are ideal for getting rid of a tail as they are inexpensive, take up very little space (a few hundreds can fit in a shoe box) and are very effective. When deploying the caltrops make sure that none of them fall beneath your own vehicle and pierce your back wheels, and everyone behind the vehicle that was tailing you is now going to want to tail you and kill you. And if their vehicle is equipped with run-flat tires, you have simply limited their pursuit to only another 50 miles or so….
If you haven’t prepared adequately or if you have already used up your supplies you can improvise by keeping a small container full of rocks (tennis ball sized or slightly bigger) which you’ll throw towards the pursuing vehicle. These will cause limited damage but a shattered windshield may slow them down.
One Final Thought
Apart from trying to stop your pursuers you should also be careful that they don’t stop your vehicle. They might shoot at you and unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to stop that apart from shooting back using the blind fire technique explained above. Your pursuers might try to use the PIT maneuver in which the pursuing vehicle aligns its front portion with the rear portion of the leading vehicle and rams the latter sideways causing the leading vehicle to spin out of control. It’s the typical move police use for stopping fleeing suspects. Whilst being followed you have to keep an eye on your pursuers and make sure that they are not trying to perform this maneuver. If you notice their vehicle coming into this position you should immediately accelerate. If you are already going at full speed you can hit the brakes hard such that the pursuing vehicle ends up in front of you, ideally in such a way that you become the one able to perform the PIT maneuver.
As with everything else related to preppers the key to surviving a car chase is to have made the necessary preparations by adequately equipping your vehicle with the items listed above and possibly installing some form of static defenses such as bull bars to increase the robustness of your vehicle. You could also take a defensive driving course in which they teach you how to perform specific maneuvers to outrun chasing vehicles and how to make them lose control.