The Trouble with Telling Someone to be Situationally Aware
Situational awareness as a concept is amazingly important, but it’s useless without the correct frame of reference. If you don’t know that something is potentially dangerous, you can be completely “aware” of its presence and do nothing to mitigate the risk it represents to you. The simple act of being more aware of your surroundings isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t know what to look for.
Everyone has experienced a moment of distraction in public. Whether it’s a notification on your phone, something your boss said to you, or just thinking about what needs to be done the rest of the day, it’s easy to get distracted. The simple fact of the matter is that it’s impossible to be 100% aware of your surroundings 100% of the time. Most of the time, the consequences for being distracted are non-existent. But in certain situations, allowing our attention to wander can have life-changing results.
Truck drivers interested in self-defense need to know what they’re looking for and when they should be looking for it.
What Should Truck Drivers Look For?
Pre-incident, or pre-assault, indicators are what truck drivers and self-defense minded people should be looking for. Certain pre-incident indicators might be obvious. If it’s the middle of the summer and someone wearing a ski mask and carrying a knife approaches you in a parking lot, any reasonable person might assume they were about to be robbed or attacked. Other pre-incident indicators might seem relatively harmless. A person standing by an entry to a retail location who begins moving toward you across a parking lot doesn’t seem particularly threatening at face value. However, movement initiated by your presence or proximity is a common pre-incident indicator, especially if the movement is directly toward you or places the person in your path of travel.
There are many other pre-incident indicators that truck drivers should make themselves aware of, such as target glancing, grooming cues, and others. While information regarding pre-incident indicators for regular everyday people can be difficult to find outside of a training class, at least one national level instructor has posted their coursework regarding pre-incident indicators online.
When Should They Look for It?
Once someone knows what they’re looking for, the question of when they should be looking for it becomes very important. A total lack of awareness can certainly make someone more susceptible to criminal assault, but hypervigilance can be harmful for entirely different reasons. Ideally, someone’s awareness will dial up and down based on the situation and environment, with awareness increasing at times when there is more risk of an attack and decreasing when an attack is less likely. It’s important that someone actively work to manage distractions when more awareness is called for.
Transitional spaces (the physical space that someone must pass through between one place and another) represent one of the largest areas of concern for truck drivers. Truck stop parking lots are what members of the training community consider to be a transitional space, and they are a prime example of when a truck driver should devote more attention to their surroundings and the people in it.
Knowing the Law Is Critical
Knowing how the law works before, during, and after a self-defense incident is critical. While it’s easy to focus on self-defense weapons and which one is best, the most effective weapon in the world won’t do someone any good if they don’t use it because they don’t know the law—or worse, they do use it when it isn’t legal to do so. U.S. LawShield® members receive 24/7/365 access to a non-emergency attorney hotline where they may ask any firearm or self-defense law question they have. Members who select multi-state protection have the added peace of mind that comes from knowing their U.S. LawShield membership benefits are with them no matter which state they’re in.
Everywhere You Go, There You Are
At the end of the day, the only self-defense weapons a truck driver can be sure they’ll have with them 100% of the time is a U.S. LawShield membership and their own mind. Practicing active avoidance, de-escalation, and situational awareness can help keep someone from finding themselves in a self-defense incident; but if an incident can’t be avoided, knowledge of the law and a plan to handle the legal aftermath can be the difference between life, a lengthy prison sentence, and death.
The information provided in this publication is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.