Safety tips for women drivers

Women who drive alone, night or day, need to take extra precautions.

For example, if you think you are being followed, take a different route and extra twists and turns. Take note of landmarks so you do not get lost. If the vehicle stays with you, you are probably right. Do not stop, allow the other driver to pull up beside you or try to out-drive them. Drive to the nearest police station, petrol station or convenience store.

Here are a few more safety tips:

Don’t drive after dark into areas you don’t know.

Ensure your cellphone is fully charged – and invest in a car charger.

Try and have someone with you. In the US some women drivers take along a male blow-up doll!

Keep an emergency kit, snacks and water with you. . If you break down, pull over and call for assistance. If someone offers to help, stay in your car and roll down the window only far enough talk.

Never accept a ride with someone you don’t know. We live in a country with a history of woman abuse. Stay in your vehicle until help arrives.

Ensure your car is well serviced and maintained. Better still, empower yourself by learning how to change a tyre, jump-start the battery, or change a wiper blade.

Women attract attention simply by being women drivers. Don’t respond to overtures. Drive on or turn at the next intersection. Don’t get into a verbal exchange.

Keep your music at a reasonable level so you are aware of your surroundings. Don’t check phone messages or update Facebook and Twitter in traffic. Hijackers and smash-and-grab thugs could surprise you. Your phone should be off every time you turn on the ignition.

Lock your vehicle and don’t open your windows, especially at busy intersections. Open the window only a centimetre or so to talk to strangers.

Parking areas are a haven for criminals. Have your car keys in your hand and do not use your cellphone as this will distract you. Do not interact with strangers. If there is a suspicious-looking vehicle near yours, ask a security guard to escort you, or walk in a group.

Check around your wheels for sharp objects and be alert when loading your boot; don’t use your cellphone or fiddle with your handbag. Some security fundis even advise women with long hair to tie it back for a clearer, all-round vision.

Do not assume that an unmarked vehicle with flashing lights is a police car. If you are not sure, keep driving until you can pull over in a well-lit area and hoot to attract attention. If the vehicle following you is genuine, the police will approach you. Open the window just enough to speak to them and ask to see their police IDs.