All motorists need to be careful on the roads, but often female drivers need to be more attentive to avoid falling prey to hijacking, bullying, sexual assault and overall being more vulnerable to criminals.
With this in mind, Niki Cronje, Group Marketing at IMPERIAL Road Safety, shares some top tips to keep in mind when driving on our roads.
Getting into your vehicle
Hold your keys in your hand as you approach your parked car. Don’t wait until you reach the car to search for them in your purse as this is when you are most vulnerable. Before you get in, have a glance inside to check all is well and that no-one is hiding inside. Then, before you pull-off, get into the habit of ensuring that your handbag is out of sight, either locked in the boot of your vehicle or underneath your seat. Similarly, the best place to keep a laptop is in the boot – away from prying eyes that may look onto your vehicle when you are stopped at a robot or stop street.
Avoid unnecessary distractions
Put your cellphone into your handbag – so that it is out of site. This way you are less of a target at a robot or intersection and aren’t getting distracted by messages and social media. If you have to use you mobile to make or accept a call, rather install a “hands-free” kit. Never text and drive, as this could slow down your brake-reaction speed by 18%, meaning that by the time you have realised you need to break – it is likely too late. Also, try to keep the volume of your sound system at a reasonable level so you are aware of your surroundings.
Keep in mind in an emergency
Should your vehicle break down, pull over, turn the hazard lights on and call for emergency assistance. If someone offers to help if you have broken down, stay in your vehicle and roll down just enough to tell the person that help is on the way, or to ask them to make a phone call if you do not have a phone. Never accept a ride with someone you don't know - no matter how friendly the help may seem, you need to stay in your vehicle until help arrives.
The more you empower yourself with basic maintenance tips, the less chances of you being the damsel in distress. Practice changing a tyre and learn how to jump-start a battery. Get into the habit of filling when the tank’s half empty, rather than waiting for the warning light, get faults fixed promptly rather than waiting for them to get worse. Remember a well-maintained car is less likely to break down and leave you stranded, so keep your car in good mechanical condition and have it serviced regularly by a reputable garage.
If you are being followed
Should you believe a vehicle is following you, turn into a different road than the one you would normally take. Should the other vehicle turn into the same road, take a few more turns, while avoiding any dead-end roads. If the other vehicle continues to stick with you, and you are convinced that you are being followed do not stop or allow the other driver to pull up beside you. Drive to the nearest police station – but if it is too far or you don’t know where it is, drive to the nearest petrol station or shopping centre.