Are Highway Rest Stops SHTF Safe?
Dr. John Woods 09.02.19
On a recent extended highway trip on multiple interstate highways, I opted to stop at several official state welcome centers or rest stops. I watched a wide array of people leaving their parked cars to avail themselves of the relief station, just to stretch a bit, exercise a pet, or grab a drink or a nap.
Welcome centers are good stops to find local information, highway maps, housing availability, camping area info, restaurants, services, weather updates, notices of storms or unrest, and such. But during a SHTF, would they be safe areas to stop or hold out for a while, maybe overnight?
Surveying the flow of people from the parking lots to the rest area facilities, certainly they looked like everyday people taking a short rest or break. The same could be said of people at a mall or a grocery store. How do we know who is who?
Rest areas are also popular stops for over-the-road drivers. They are from everywhere, going who-knows-where. Again, there is no way to know anything about them either, trustworthy or not.
Keep in mind that such rest areas are public venues, and open all the time, 24 hours a day. Some may have security personnel on hand, but I would not rely upon them to protect me or to save my life. Also remember that all of these types of areas I have ever been into have one entry point and one exit point for vehicles to come and go. This could be an issue if you have to execute a speedy departure or escape.
As with any other area, your best bet is to proceed slowly, maintain a keen observation of the area and those coming and going. Park away from the easiest, up-front parking spaces to maintain safe space. If you are alone, proceed with caution. If other people are in your car, leave at least one person behind to watch the vehicle and its contents.
Whether you have a concealed gun permit or not, take your gun with you (obviously keeping it concealed). A low- or no-print weapon would be best so that it does not draw attention. Do your business quickly, watching around you, and then proceed back to your vehicle. If you stop to put money in a vending machine or some other similar task, always watch your back.
A rest area might be safe enough for a short nap or to rest overnight if somebody remains at guard. I would not tarry there any longer than necessary. During any SHTF event it is best to move along and make planned stops — short ones.