Vigilance. Caution. If you’re a woman driver, these are you new BFF

Don't drive with your windows open and door unlocked.

We all know the feeling of driving alone and not feeling completely safe. Not great.

A vigilant driver is a safe driver … and the learned skill of continually being aware of your surroundings, knowing where other cars are in relation to your vehicle, taking note of pedestrians and identifying potential threats is essential to any woman driving alone or travelling with children.

According to MiWay Insurance, vigilance begins with the basics of ensuring that your car is roadworthy … tyres are correctly inflated, oil is continuously topped up and the fuel tank is not running on reserve. Spending a few extra minutes to have these items checked as part of your routine fuel stop will reduce the possibility of a breakdown. And ensuring that your car is serviced regularly will reduce the odds of a breakdown even more.

Make sure your vehicle is regularly serviced.

Once on the road, you really do need to avoid distractions. Doing make-up, texting, making manual phone calls or even turning in your seat to quieten down noisy children takes your eyes off the road, and your mind off  what matters … your safety. If you really can’t ignore an interruption, find a safe place to pull off on the side of the road. Make sure there are no pedestrians around, keep your doors locked and leave the engine running, so you are ready to pull off in hurry if you need to.

Don’t text and drive, always make sure your phone is in easy reach and fully charged.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Never leave handbags, phones, laptops or even groceries in plain sight.  They are a temptation to thieves who are experts at smashing windows, snatching possessions and then vanishing in seconds.
  • Always leave a safe distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you when you are stationary.  This gives you room to manoeuvre safety if you are approached by suspicious individuals.
  • Always keep your car doors locked and windows closed. Never open a window when a pedestrian points at your vehicle as though he has seen something wrong with the car. This is often a ploy to get you to lower your window so that you are vulnerable.
  • Keep your phone in grabbing distance and have emergency numbers on speed-dial so that you can quickly call for help.
  • Ensure your phone is always charged. Having a car charger is handy for this.
  • If you feel that you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station or pull into a brightly-lit petrol station forecourt where you can get help if you need it.
  • Remember your hooter can be your best friend. Sounding the hooter continuously when being threatened attracts attention. This is something that criminals don’t want and could startle them into leaving the scene.
Carry a can of aerosol inflater in case of a flat tyre.
  • Consider keeping a can of tyre inflating aerosol in your cubbyhole or boot. If you have a puncture, unless the tyre is shredded, you will be able to re-inflate the tyre quickly and drive on. Alternately many insurers offer emergency roadside assistance (like MiWay’s MiHelp Roadside Assistance) to help in case of an emergency, including helping with flat tyres and batteries, a locksmith or petrol if you run out of fuel.
  • Always park in well-lit areas and be vigilant when entering or leaving your car. If you feel nervous, get a security guard to walk you to your car.
  • If you are nervous about arriving home, ask your security company or armed response (if you have one) to meet you on your arrival and wait while you go inside your house.
  • Always tell someone you trust where you are going, the route you will be following and your expected arrival time. When you are running late, phone and let people know where you are and your new arrival time.

Small things can make a huge difference, and ensuring that you take the necessary precautions can help ensure that you do not find yourself in a precarious situation or, if you are in a potentially dangerous situation, you are able to get out of it as unscathed as possible.