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What Can I Do to Stay Safe While Charging My Electric Car?
A good brush-up on the basics of situational awareness is always in order. We’ve got plenty of resources to help you out in that department. As for how to tactically drive away from danger, some of my past work on how to stay safe at the bank drive-thru and other behind-the-wheel tips will be of aid.
As far as charging stations go though, the good news is that professional carjackers probably don’t want your electric vehicle.
Electric vehicles are easily tracked, they can be remotely deactivated, and they’re difficult to part out and sell from a standard auto chop shop. That doesn’t necessarily mean no one wants to steal EVs. But a Tesla or a Leaf generally isn’t as appealing a target to traditional car thieves as more common vehicles are.
The bad news is … that’s the simplest part of this equation.
Where Electrical Vehicles Become Dangerous
Unless you drive or ride a very interesting gas- or diesel-powered vehicle, it will be unusual for someone to approach you at the pump. In fact, someone approaching you while you’re pumping gas is a potential pre-attack indicator in and of itself. Gas stations are the watering holes of the mechanized world. Just as predatory animals know to wait for prey by the river, predatory humans know to wait for prey by the pump. That isn’t likely to change with EV stations, but there will be a lot more “noise in the signal” with regard to whether the person or people who are approaching you may pose a threat.
This is because you’ll have to expect more interaction while charging an electric vehicle than you would expect at a gas pump. In my experience, people with electric cars enjoy talking about their electric cars, especially with other electric-car owners. Moreover, charging your Tesla isn’t a 4-minute job like filling a 12-gallon gas tank. There will be a lot more time for a lot more chatting with a lot more strangers.
But back to predators for a second.
If I’m a violent criminal, sure: I’ll rob a guy who’s gassing up his rusted-out 1990 Isuzu pickup. But in a lot of ways, I’d rather not.
Armed and strong-arm robbery are inherently risky. And predators look to manage that risk. Generally, the less a man has, the more it means to him.
So the guy next to the Isuzu is probably more likely to fight me for his wallet and phone than the guy next to the Tesla. Possibly even more importantly, the guy next to the Isuzu almost certainly has at least a utility knife on him, if not some other sort of weapon.
The guy next to the Tesla?
There’s a decent chance that all the knives he owns are in his kitchen. There’s an even better chance that he’s anti-gun.
So regardless of whether that describes you personally, driving an EV makes you a more-appealing target to certain violent predators. After all, you’re driving a luxury vehicle. And if I’m looking to manage my risk as a violent predator, I’m not looking to get in a razor-knife fight to the death over some guy’s cigarettes and a truck that barely runs. I’m looking to rob people who have a lot of money and probably won’t fight me for it.
How to Stay Safe Charging Your Car
So what can you do to stay as safe as possible?
Well, as with everything else in life, pay attention to what should and should not be happening. Primarily, if someone pulls up by your EV charging station in a gas-powered car, that could be a very bad sign of what is to come.
There is etiquette to charging EVs, especially once we get to stuff like charging stations that may share power sources or charging your electric car in an RV park. This is going to be a moving target as technology changes, so remain flexible. As with everything else in life, learn the social mores of what you’re looking to do and when in doubt, apologize.
Some apps list private-residence charging stations alongside the normal public stations. This brings us back to the part about how a lot of people who own EVs enjoy talking to their fellow enthusiasts. I would be surprised were someone to sign their residence up for public charging as part of some sort of Texas Chainsaw Massacre-style ruse to lure in victims. In my experience, the kinds of people who would opt in for this kind of “help-a-guy-out” duty are doing so in order to participate in an activity they enjoy and to meet new people. That said, he or she may not be interested in firearms or even necessarily want one on his or her property, so it might be best to keep that info under your hat.
Once the vehicle’s charging, wherever it is you’ve decided to spend however long it’ll take, move with purpose. Keep your eyes on your surroundings and as always, resist the temptation to get lost in your phone. Remain assertive and in control of your body language. Do not engage panhandlers and remain prepared to defend yourself, so no fair leaving that sidearm or pepper spray behind. And as always, though you’re prepared to defend yourself, never forget that some people really do just want to talk to you about your car.