Take Charge in an Accident for Survival

            “That idiot pulled out right in front of us!”  Duane put on the brakes to avoid the dark blue Toyota that had just come from the road on our right.  “If we crack up out here it would take a while before they came along to pick up the pieces.”


            “You’re the one who volunteered to make this trip to pick up farm fresh eggs for our wives,” I said as corn fields whizzed by.  “At least if something does happen out here, there won’t be people standing around gawking.”


            “Yeah.”  Duane’s tension eased a bit.  “Remember that big news story a while back about the guy who got hit by two cars and people just stood around?  It’s proof we’re a cold hearted lot.”


            “I don’t know,” I said.  “What if someone whipped out their cell phone to call 911?  Or maybe people didn’t want to move the guy and hurt his neck or back or something.”


            “Yeah, I suppose.”  Duane looked at a piece of paper on the dashboard.  “I think I take this next road up here, if I’m reading this right.  Do you remember what Diane said?”


            “No.  You’re the driver.  I’m just along for the ride,” I said.  “That takes me back to the scenario of people standing around after an accident.  They’re along for the ride, too, in a way.”


            Duane looked puzzled.  “What do you mean?”


            “I’ve been reading a book by Robert Cialdini called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, and one of the things he talks about  is why people don’t get involved when there’s an accident.”


            “Ha!  I don’t have to read a book to answer that.  They don’t want to get mixed up with lawyers in court who are suing each other’s butts off.”


            “Maybe,” I said, “but Cialdini says it has to do with something called the principle of social proof.  People do what they think is the correct thing to do based on what others are doing.  If they see other people not getting involved to help an accident or shooting victim, they won’t do it either.  They may assume people know what’s going on, or that somebody’s already done something.”


            “Stupid lemmings,” Duane growled as he slowed the car a bit.  He turned his head toward the dirt road going off to our left.  “I don’t think it’s this road, I think it’s the next one down a ways.  I didn’t see the old red barn we’re supposed to be looking for.”


            I shrugged.  “Cialdini gives a great survival tip though.”


            “Oh, really?”


            “He says to take charge.  Recognize what’s going on.  He mentioned that he was once in a car accident and knew enough to point specifically to a couple of people and ask them to call the police and an ambulance.  People were willing to comply, which triggered the responses of others on the scene who helped the other guy, too.  Studies show that such responses are pretty typical, but somebody has to show some initiative.”


            “So this social proof thing worked to his advantage I guess,” Duane said.


            “Right.  I think it’s a pretty important thing to keep in mind and try out in a tough spot.”


            “That reminds me of what Survival Sam is always telling us,” Duane said.  “Don’t be like everybody else.  Break away from the pack and take action.”


            “You’re right,” I said.  “He’d say it’s just part of the survival mindset.”


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.