Imagine for a moment you are driving to meet family or friends at a favorite restaurant near your home for a birthday celebration. While at a stop sign, a car bumps into you from behind. You glance into the rearview mirror and see two people occupying the driver and passenger side of the vehicle—there may be someone in the back seat, but you cannot be sure. You then exit the car to assess the damage. The other driver exits his car to meet you, and you are both relieved to discover minimal damage. While focused on exchanging insurance information, however, you hear commotion from the other car and realize another individual is rapidly approaching you. They are armed with a gun and tell you to hand over your wallet and car keys. You comply. The individual with the gun gets into your vehicle, the other driver returns to their car and both drive away.

The preceding example is an extreme, yet realistic, mental exercise when beginning to understand the importance of situational awareness. If this did happen to you, what would you do? How would you react? Could events have played out differently?

Developing a practice of educating oneself on environmental surroundings, known or unknown, is the best way to circumvent preventable threats to you or others. “Knowledge is power,” so the saying goes, and it could not be more true than when considering situational awareness.

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