Tips for Staying Safe in a Motor Vehicle Terrorist Attack

A moment of silence and prayer for the innocents of New York City.
You’re in our thoughts and our hearts. 

The rash of attacks has left many Americans uneasy, making them wonder what they might be able to do, in the event of a similar attack, if a large vehicle starts barreling down a crowded sidewalk.

Be aware of what is going on around you

I’m no better than anyone else, and when I’m walking down the sidewalk I get sucked into my smartphone, either checking text messages or my friends social media posts on Facebook and Twitter, or occasionally I’ll put my headphones in to listen to a podcast or some of my favorite songs. Unfortunately, distracting yourself from what is going on around you may take away precious seconds you need to realize that a truck or car is barreling up behind you, sending screaming people and bodies flying. Unplug. Be aware of your surroundings so that you have the critical few seconds you need to realize that an attack is underway so that you can try to “get off the X,” gunfighter terminology for getting off the line of an attack.

Know your escape routes

In the London attack, the terrorist chose his target area carefully. There are few places for you to go on a bridge. On most surface roads, however, there are plenty of areas to quickly turn and run the few paces you need to get out of a careening vehicle’s path. It is relatively unlikely that the terrorist is going to choose to try to run down an individual target that could cause him to miss easier targets. This could simply mean running into a field or park or out into the street or road itself if he is targeting people on the sidewalk. The goal is to get out of the typical straight line path of a vehicle-driving terrorist that is hoping to use speed and surprise as his primary method of attack, not aiming at specific individuals.

Find cover

In many urban areas there may not be a field or park towards which you can run. In cities, this could mean ducking into alcoves in front of many shops, or around the corners of buildings. You may, however, find yourself near the entrance of a building, many of which have alcoves. Duck into the alcove or through the front door. If you are near the edge of a building, you may be able to duck into an alley or around the corner, out of the terrorist’s path.

If all else fails, GET LOW

Terrorists plotting a vehicle attack generally prefer acquiring larger commercial vehicles that are less likely to be easily stopped. These larger vehicles, such as box trucks, may have higher ground clearances than passenger vehicles which closely hug the road. If you have no time to evade or no place to run, your best option is to dive to the ground as close to the center of the vehicle (away from the wheels) as possible, and to flatten out as completely as you can. This is a desperation move when no other options are left on the table, but if you’re lucky and the vehicle has a high ground clearance, there is a possibility that it may pass over you without making contract.

A ballistic solution?

Unlike citizens in Europe, Americans have embraced their natural human right to bear arms for their defense. There are presently more than 14.5 million Americans with concealed carry permits. Is it possible for a concealed carrier to stop a vehicle attack? Maybe, but the odds of doing so are very slim.

Shooting at the vehicle itself in hopes of disabling it immediately are far-fetched. Hitting tires or the radiator is very unlikely to cause the vehicle stop within a hundred yards. The single best target in a vehicle attack is the driver. Laminated automobile glass is vulnerable to handgun bullets, with modern bonded jacketed hollow. The other obvious problem is that even a perfect shot on a rapidly moving target is going to do nothing to stop the vehicle’s forward momentum. A box truck plowing down an urban sidewalk isn’t suddenly going to stop because you managed to put a perfect shot through the windshield and exposed Jihad Johnny’s brains to sunlight.


Your best bet of avoiding being hit by a vehicle terrorist driving down a crowded sidewalk is being aware of what is going on around you. Be aware of possible ways to get out his way. If you cannot escape the vehicle’s path, going low and hoping that a commercial vehicle has enough ground clearance to roll right over top of you may be your only hope. If you carry a handgun, there is a very slight chance you may be able to bring your gun into play and shoot the terrorist in the brief window of time you have on a moving target, but if the vehicle stops for any reason, it could very well be your weapon that can end his attack.




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