Best of the Drop — Road Safety

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

As schools let out for the summer, families across America will hit the road to visit our nation’s beaches, parks and treasured vacation spots.

But before you embark, there are a few aspects of car safety you should take into account. In today’s “best of” edition of the Weekly Drop, I’ll show you several ways to stay safe on America’s roadways.

If you have a question about anything that isn’t covered below, send it to SPYfeedback@LFB.org so I can address it in a future mailbag alert. If you have a question about any other safety and survival topic, be sure to send it my way as well.

Now let’s dive in.

Several months back I purchased three of your RESCUE packs. I didn’t see any literature about the contents. Is it possible you can send me a list of what items should be in it?

— Sandra P.

The RESCUE Pack isn’t your typical roadside emergency kit. I spent six months searching the globe to find the best suppliers of the highest-quality products at the lowest prices.

First is the pack itself, which is designed to fit neatly in the cabin of your car — not the trunk — so it’s always accessible when you need it. Then inside each RESCUE Pack you’ll find…

  • A universal, lightweight battery charger with a standard USB port that will charge ANY cellphone on the market today
  • A waterproof, thermal-reflective Mylar blanket designed with NASA technology to keep you warm while waiting for help to arrive
  • Aquatabs water purification tablets that quickly transform even the dirtiest water into crystal-clear hydration
  • An ultralight, multifunctional, military-grade collapsible shovel to help you dig yourself out of a variety of sticky situations
  • The SEAL Torch 2000 tactical flashlight — the secret weapon of the elite Navy SEALs and one of the brightest illumination devices available for civilian use.

Plus, a 3-in-1 survival whistle with a compass AND a thermometer, 20 feet of paracord, 3 feet of orange distress ribbon, a first-aid kit, duct tape, a rain poncho, an MRE and waterproof matches.

The fact is one out of every seven American drivers is going to be stranded on the road at some point in the next 12 months. With these items, you’ll gain the peace of mind from knowing that you and your family will be protected in any roadside emergency.

One of my personal concerns is remaining safe when traveling by car. Road rage is one obvious issue. However, I’ve heard about incidents where people have been pulled from their vehicle in urban areas and beaten, simply because they “look” the wrong way. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

— Brian C.

The No. 1 thing to remember while driving is always keep your doors locked and your windows rolled up. Most new cars automatically lock the doors when the vehicle is in motion, but I always double-check.

The second thing I recommend is keep a paper map in your car. If you are driving in an unfamiliar area, you’ll want to be able to quickly identify an escape route. You don’t want to end up stuck on a dead-end street in the wrong part of town with a malfunctioning GPS.

Also, if you are driving in a dangerous area and you see someone broken down on the side of the road, be extra cautious. If you don’t feel safe stopping to help, you could call the police and ask them to check on the person. Criminals sometimes use a fake disabled car to get a good Samaritan to stop so they can rob them.

Finally, carry a gun where you legally can. In my opinion, if some psycho attacks me in my car, the best way to save my life is with a firearm.

How do I escape the trunk of a car?

— Gavin R.

Most newer cars have a glow-in-the-dark trunk release built into them. Or you might be able to kick out the back seat and crawl out of the trunk through the car itself.

Re: the question of traveling with a gun… There is an excellent app out there — at least for Android phones — that is very up-to-date and updated at least weekly that helps a traveler sort through the hodgepodge of different state concealed carry laws. Workman Consulting LLC calls it CCW Concealed Carry.

— Allen D.

Thanks, Allen. I checked it out, and this app is available both for Android and iPhone owners. It looks like a great tool to use when trying to untangle the web of concealed carry laws.

The app allows you to input which CCW permits you have and then uses their mapping system to help you plan a trip, so you can see which states honor your permit. According to the company, they update the information on a monthly basis.

My wife and I are retired and are about to take a long trip in our new RV. Although I own several guns, I am reluctant to take them along. What can you recommend as the best nonlethal method of self-defense to travel with?

— Gabe P.

Great question, Gabe. I recommend purchasing a self-defense stun gun flashlight. The great thing about this handy device is that you can use it as a regular flashlight, which means it would blend in easily with the rest of your gear, since you and your wife are traveling and staying in your RV.

However, if you are walking around a strange town at night and encounter a dangerous person, you can use the stun gun to give you the chance to escape. In addition to this flashlight, I also recommend you and your wife carry tactical pens with you everywhere you go.

What about protecting your personal information in rental cars? When I charge my iPhone in a rental, sometimes it uploads my address book and who knows what else. I have rented cars that have previous renter’s data in them. (When I return the car, I delete theirs and mine.)

— Ann L.

I’m glad you delete your information from the car. And you’re absolutely right. It amazes me how often I get in rental cars and see all the information from the previous driver.

To protect your privacy, always turn off your phone’s Bluetooth function when using a rental car. Also, be careful when using the USB connection. I recommend setting up your smartphone so that when you connect to another device via USB, it asks for permission to access the information on your phone. (Obviously, the answer is no.)

Finally, to be extra cautious, always check the rental car’s database before you return it to make sure it hasn’t stored any of your data.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea if car manufacturers redesigned the tongue portion of the seat belt in a way that it could be used as a glass-breaking tool? Is there anything else inside your car that would work?

— Steve T.

While that’s a good idea, Steve, I’m not sure car manufactures would ever go for it. Which is why I always have a knife or some sort of glass-breaking device close by when I’m driving.

Of course, if you do have a heavy object in your car, you might be able to break the window with it, although I wouldn’t make this plan A. The fact is when your car is filling with water, you typically have less than a minute to get out before it’s submerged, so you don’t want to have to root around for something to free yourself.

I recommend planning ahead by keeping a glass-breaking tool (like this military-grade flashlight ) in your glove box or center console in case you ever find yourself trapped in this dire situation. And if the device doubles as a tool to cut through seat belts? Even better.

Stay safe,

jason hanson

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

Written By Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson is a former CIA officer and security specialist. He’s appeared on numerous television shows, including ABC’s Shark Tank and NBC’s Today show. To get free survival tips from Jason, click here.