With all the road hazards of- carjacking, abductions, preying criminals and police impersonators – as a woman driving alone, it’s very likely for you to fall prey to such dangers.
As road safety remains a great concern for most communities in South Africa, whether you are male or female, various statistics indicate that women are safer on the road as they are less likely to be in road accidents, however they are more likely to be preyed on – especially when driving alone. Here are a few tips to consider when traveling alone:
1. Plan your trips – make sure you mapped out the route you’re traveling on to avoid getting lost or having to stop in unknown places. Don’t drive at night, especially if you are not familiar with the surroundings. It is also a good habit to always let someone know of your whereabouts to ensure your own safety should you need help sent to you.
2. Make use of technology – install a personal safety app such as the mysos on your phone in case you need emergency assistance while driving alone. Add emergency numbers to your phone – such as that of a motoring assistance company, car insurance, etc.Make sure your phone is charged as you will need it to get help should anything happen to you OR keep a spare phone charger in your vehicle.
3. Always be alert when parking – take note of your surroundings when parking, always park in a well-lit parking area with frequent movement from public or security personnel. Don’t linger around your vehicle– as this makes you vulnerable to predators. It is also wise to be aware of landmarks as it may come in handy should you need to inform someone of your whereabouts.
4. Keep your car well maintained – a well maintained car is less likely to break down or give you problems. Keep your car in good mechanical condition and have it serviced regularly. It will also be bonus to learn how to do some DIY maintenance like changing a tyre. Also, investigate if your vehicle insurance covers you for road side assistance.
5. Avoid stopping for strangers– with all the lurking dangers, you simply can’t just trust anyone. Be aware of police impersonators, hitchhikers and “stranded motorists”. If you are stopped by the police and you feel unsafe, you have the right to ask the official to identify him or herself by showing their appointment card. Don’t ever assume that an unmarked vehicle with flashing lights is a police car. Furthermore, remember that if you feel unsafe for instance when followed and instructed by an apparent police official whilst driving, you can drive to the nearest police station in order to make sure that it is a bona fide police official that instructed you to pull over.
6. Never run out of fuel – get into the habit of filling your tank when it is half empty rather than waiting for the warning light. Breaking down is not a good option, especially when driving alone.
7. Keep your valuables out of sight – the last thing you want is to attract chancers and becoming a smash-and-grab victim. Don’t leave your handbag, purse, phone etc. in plain sight as this will make you more of a target.