Living in NJ is an experience unto itself.  Just ask any of my friends who live here that are transplants like me.  It is certainly one of the most unique places I have ever been.  People here just want to get from point A to point B when they are in the car.  You would think so they do based on how quickly the traffic passes you and how the people drive.  It’s a place where traffic either moves at 80 MPH down Route 3 or it moves at 5 MPH or less due to traffic.  It’s rarely in between.  One thing is also a fact, New Jersey is the most densely populated states in the country based on the number of square miles and the number of state residents.  The bottom line, there’s just a lot of damn people on the road all the time.  It makes it hard to navigate your car on the road, and you most definitely need to remain vigilant and acutely aware of the traffic and conditions around you.  This is just during normal conditions, imagine for a moment rush hour; rather, going nowhere fast hour when cars are lined up for miles and miles and miles.  Ugh.  I used to drive from Northern NJ to Central NJ every day to go to work about 9 years ago.  I wanted to shoot myself.  Honestly.  By the time I got to work or by the time I got home from work, I was mentally exhausted just from the traffic, and the slow movement on the NJ Parkway.  I wondered how people did it day after day for 30 years.  My point, however, is that traffic was S… L… O… W…

Now, knowing that traffic can be overbearing at any given time of day or night, and knowing that seemingly for no reason at all the traffic you thought should be moving at a normal speed, is moving at a snails pace, add an emergency to the mix.  Add an emergency that pushes people to the road to evacuate their homes, offices, etc. and have to go west towards Pennsylvania or north towards New York State.  for those of you that do not know, there are only four main arteries that go towards Pennsylvania and only two or three main arteries that move towards New York State.  Some of which intersect which could make life difficult.  In addition there are only three main arteries that come from NYC to New Jersey further compounding the traffic and panic element.

To give you some perspective, where I live in Eastern New Jersey, is only 7 miles from the Lincoln Tunnel.  If I decide to go to PA via Interstate 80, without traffic, it can take 60 – 75 minutes to the border.  Add a holiday weekend, and that 75 minutes can be extended to 120 – 180 minutes as long as traffic is moving slowly.  When it is moving less than slowly, it has taken me three hours to three and a half hours to go 120 miles.  Sigh.  Typically I will use just over a 1/4 tank of gas with minimal traffic.  With holiday traffic I can use half a tank of gas.  Gas milage is exponentially destroyed by idling in traffic.  That said, I have no doubt in my mind, in an emergency situation with evacuation under way, I have no doubt traffic will be stopped for what would seem to be an eternity.  Additionally, G-d forbid that there is an accident during an evacuation situation and traffic is stopped for hours or indefinitely.  Panic, anger, stress, etc, would all ensue and attitudes would seemingly deteriorate quickly.  I personally saw deterioration of attitudes after last years hurricane within a 24 hour period where people had no power, running water, refrigeration, etc.  I can only imagine peoples attitudes stuck in a small car, let alone a home with no power or resources.  Chaos would ensue.  I must believe that in any urban environment, a similar situation could be easily replicable.

So, what are the immediate threats to getting to your Bug Out or Fall Back Locations?  As I see it, Traffic is a real and present threat to getting to my and your destination in an urban or suburban environment.  Second to that is your fuel consumption.  Unless you have a backup tank in your vehicle or gerry cans with you, fuel is a commodity you don’t want to fool with.  My suggestion is to always have close to a spare tank of gasoline in storage.  I say this, without gasoline storage of my own because of the apartment I live in.  I am currently making plans to store gasoline at a friends or rent a garage about 1.5 miles from my apartment so that I can store gear, fuel, and preps there.  It is a private garage renting a bay from a person rather than a business.  My rationale is that if I were to rent a storage unit (gasoline and flammables are against the rules to store anyway) and have the place go into lock down during an emergency, I thought it might be smarter to rent it privately, and off the books and pay in cash…

Getting back on track, I recommend you have at least an extra FULL tank of gasoline you can bring with you if you have to bug out to help eliminate the threat of running out of fuel prior to getting to your destination.  Do what you have to in order to achieve this if you have bug out plans.  What you think could be a slightly stressed drive on your gas tank can be much worse than you can imagine.

Backtracking for a moment, you should (and I am working on this actively) work through different bug out routes.  Try them at different times of the day, week, year, holiday season, etc.  Get a feel for them, and if you have to document your tests in a journal so that you can quickly reference it if you need to prior to a Bug Out.  I have tried three of five possible routes for myself.  I have done so, because I have traveled them each numerous times, and one may intersect with another either simplifying or complicating your route and situation.  If you have the opportunity to use back roads (the roads less travelled) don’t fool yourself, they too will be slow going, as well as congested with people trying different routes to try and hedge their bets.

Lastly, the threat that has the highest variable is the human element.  There is no telling when a frustrated evacuee will get so upset he tries to push the guy in front of him, get out of his or her car and try to assault you or someone else, etc.  There is no telling if someone in that Ford Pinto will try to ride up the side of the road and break down and is now in your way since you’ve decided to do the same and you’re in your AWD Bug Out Vehicle (yes I am making an assumption).  There are many variables…. Almost too many to count, and we have to take as many into account as we can the moment we decide to get on the road to Bugging Out.

The point here is to know your threats, and do an assessment to make the best decision you can for you and your family.  Bugging Out at the right time is essential…

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