The smartphone can make people oblivious to their surroundings. In the past, smartphone distractions might get you a bump on the head by walking into a lamp post. In these days, however, it could cost you your life.
Deranged, disgruntled, and politically motivated incidents have taken place all over the world, and one of them was the NYC vehicular attack that cost eight lives and injured a number of others. On the positive note, being situationally aware could prevent you from becoming a victim of a future vehicular terror.
Vehicular terrorism is not new as many of such attacks occurred in Israel in past years. However, it is also becoming more common in the West with attacks in NYC, London, Nice, France, Berlin, and elsewhere. A Somali student ran over several people using his car at Ohio State University and then perpetrated a knife attack on those people who ran over to see if he was injured. Many similar events have taken place but rarely make the news, including the 2017 Sandy attack, car-ramming and shooting in Sandy, Utah; July 2017 Helsinki attack, Finland, ramming people; and 2017 Charlottesville attack, during the Unite the Right rally in Virginia, United States, ramming people.
Terror attacks are usually associated with bombs, but making it requires some expertise to assemble safely. Guns are one of the most popular weapons used in terrorism, but they are difficult to obtain and carry other than the U.S. However, it is easy to own and rent a vehicle. If wielded as a weapon, cars and trucks can cause mass casualties.
The English-language ISIS magazine Rumiyah published an article titled Just Terror Tactics. It describes which vehicles will cause the most deaths when used for attacks on Western crowds. The article suggests picking the location and timing carefully, such as going to the most crowded areas and narrower spots to give less chance for the people to run away. It further said that it is ideal to avoid places where other vehicles may intercept.
The writer suggests to pick up as much speed to create maximum carnage while retaining proper control of the vehicle to maximize inertia and be able to strike as many people as possible in the first run.
The article further urges the attackers to weld steel blades onto the front of an SUV as high as the headlights, which would make the blades strike the targets at the torso level or higher.
With these vehicular terror tactics, it is vital to have a constant state of Yellow Alert when in public spaces. You need to be calm but vigilant of what is happening around you. Nefarious intentions usually involve anomalies in behavior, so be aware of them. For example, hopping up and down and screaming are normal when you are at a rock concert, but they aren’t when you are at Starbucks.
When a vehicle leaves the typical pattern or moves erratically, it is an anomaly that needs quick action. To give yourself the best chance of escaping, you need to note the escape whenever you are in public. If you are in a mall or theatre, know the location of exits.
To give yourself a higher chance to survive from vehicular terrorism, consider walking on the fringe of a crowd away from the road. By doing it, you will have the most options. You need to understand that vehicular terrorists like to target groups of people near the street. Those pedestrians nearest the curb will suffer the most injuries.