Women who drive alone need to take a few extra precautions, for instance:
Should you notice a vehicle following you closely, turn into a different road than the one you would normally take. Remain aware of your surroundings. Should the other vehicle turn into the same road, take a few more twists and turns. If the other vehicle continues to stick with you, it would be safe to assume you are being followed and may be the target of foul play.
Do not stop or allow the other driver to pull up beside you, or try to out-drive them.
Drive to the nearest police station – but if it is too far or you don’t know where it is, drive to the nearest fuel station or convenience centre.
If you can avoid it, don’t drive after dark into areas you don’t know.
Ensure your cellphone is fully charged – and invest in a car charger.
If you take a long-distance drive, try to have someone else with you.
Should your vehicle break down, pull over and call for emergency assistance. If someone offers to help, stay in your car and roll down the window only a few centimetres – just enough to tell the person that help is on the way, or to ask them to make the phone call if you do not have a phone.
Never accept a ride with someone you don’t know.
Ensure your car is well serviced and have a safety check done before each long trip.
Learn how to change a tyre, jump-start the battery, or change a wiper blade. The more you empower yourself with basic maintenance tips, the less the chances of you being the damsel in distress.
No matter what type of car you drive, just for being a woman some freak may try to engage with you on the road. It is safest not to respond. In fact, don’t even look at someone who is trying to get your attention – just drive on, or turn at the next intersection. If it is more a case of road rage, don’t get into a verbal exchange, just take the high road and ignore him.
Keep the volume of your sound system at a reasonable level so you are aware of your surroundings and, tempting as it may be to check phone messages or update Facebook and Twitter while in traffic (your phone should be off every time you turn on the ignition), you leave yourself vulnerable to hijackers and smash-and-grab thugs who could use the element of surprise to overwhelm you.
Ensure your vehicle is locked at all times, even when you are driving (many vehicles have self-locking doors which are very handy).
Make sure your windows are not open all the way down, especially when you approach intersections.
Parking areas of shopping malls and office parks are a haven for all types of criminals. Before leaving any building, ensure that you have your car keys in your hand. Do not use your cellphone as this will distract you. Do not interact with any strangers.
If there is a large vehicle or suspicious-looking car parked next to yours, or even if you feel uneasy about approaching your vehicle, find a security guard or car guard to walk you to yours. When approaching your vehicle, regardless of where you have parked it, always walk around it to check for any irregularities.
Be particularly vigilant with regard to your wheels, as often criminals place sharp objects either behind or in front of your tyres in an attempt to puncture them.
When placing goods into your boot, position your body and trolley in a manner which would give you an advantage over a would-be attacker. Do not use your cellphone or fiddle with your handbag and do not lean too far into the boot.
Lastly, do not assume that an unmarked vehicle with flashing lights is a police car. If you are not sure and a suspicious-looking “police vehicle” tries to pull you over, keep on driving until you can pull over in a well-lit area such as a fuel station. Park as close as you can to the entrance of the kiosk or at a fuel pump and hoot. This will attract – and annoy – the attendants, but you will be safe. Should the vehicle following you be genuine police, it will approach you. When they do, open the window just enough to speak to them and ask to see their police IDs.
Remember, some criminals use police uniforms to do dirty deeds, but at least there are more people around at lit-up public places. Stay safe ladies!