A lady alone on the road is vulnerable to attack. We explored ways you can avoid being a victim before you get into the car in a separate blog here. Now, we look at intelligent ways to outsmart criminal minds on the road.
On the road
There are lots of things you can do to make sure you’re ready for any eventuality when you’re solo on the road.
Keep your phone on charge. Having a car charger and keeping your phone permanently plugged in when you drive means your battery will never die on you and make it impossible to call for help, find a new route, or share a live location. Remember to make it accessible (easy to reach without looking down) and out of sight (to avoid smash-and-grab situations).
Keep the car locked while you drive. It’s so simple, and it can make such a difference. Petty criminals and chancers are less inclined to take on a glass window than they are a door handle, you know?
“Avoid driving on unmarked routes” News24 advises, “and back roads at night.” You’ll be less likely to get lost, easier to find if you need help, and less likely to break down due to rough terrain.
Avoid taking the same route on regular trips. If you drive to and from work every weekday around the same time, try different routes, or slight diversions to your main route. This will confuse a criminal who uses routine against you.
Do not pick up hitchhikers. Roadside highjackers can take advantage of your goodwill and generosity. Criminals can pose as innocent people trying to get from A to B, just like you are. Even if you see another woman, alone, even if she appears to need help, remember that there could be more folk hiding nearby, ready to rush to your car. You can be of more help to her by calling the authorities to come to the rescue.
If you come across an accident, avoid stopping if you can. It could be a staged scene. There’s also the risk of more cars crashing if the accident site gets congested with slow or stopped vehicles. You might be more helpful in your car than out of it. If you’re the first on the scene, there are legal implications to leaving the scene. However, you can continue to a safe place, pull over and report the accident and call the relevant authorities.
Somebody hailing you urgently? If somebody is trying to tell you something about your own car, beware. They may be right about something being wrong, but they may also be trying to get closer to you. Thank them, and slow down and stop as soon as it’s safe to check the car out yourself, like at a petrol station.
Is it a real police car/ambulance? Anyone can fit flashing lights to their car. Don’t assume you’re safe if you see them. If you’re repeatedly asked to pull over, and you can’t drive to the nearest police station, stop somewhere well-lit, keep your car in gear (foot on the clutch to disengage gears if it’s manual), your windows closed all but a crack, and ask for positive identification before you engage.
Never text and drive. Ever. Texting while you drive can it cause terrible accidents in split seconds. Yet it’s a safety hazard even when you’re stopped. You innocently checking your phone at a stop street can invite a quick-thinking criminal to attack you while you’re distracted and immobile.
Share your location with someone you trust (who’s paying attention!). If you’re driving at night or long distance, let someone trustworthy know where you are, where you’re going, when you leave and when you expect to arrive. You can share your location live on WhatsApp, and various apps, or you can drop them your location at intervals.
How to handle intersections
Check your blind spots repeatedly and keep an eye on large, solid objects that may conceal criminals behind them.
Keep a safe gap between you and other vehicles. Change lanes if you need to. This allows you to pull away if you need to and gives you more space to survey your surroundings.
Approach the red robot slowly instead of stopping. This gives the traffic light time to change to green and let you skip the stop completely. It also means you have your foot on the pedal and can accelerate fast if someone tries to attack the car while it’s moving slowly.