Juliet McGuire

Women shouldn’t drive alone!

Just kidding. Of course women should drive alone, or however the hell we want to drive. We are, after all, (shock horror) very capable human beings. Who would have thought? However, we do live in a pretty dodgy country in terms of crime and women are seen as more vulnerable by criminals.

You might think you know it all, I know I like to think I do, but actually, it can never do any harm to just read a couple of tips that may seem pretty obvious.

Who knows, you could find yourself in a situation and think, “What would Juliet do?” That is the amount of power I think I hold. Again with the jokes. But in all seriousness, this article might just help you avoid a potentially dangerous situation, so take note.

MAINTAIN MAINTAIN MAINTAIN!

I drive along the N2 in Cape Town weekly, it is a terrifying road and every single time I head out on to it, I get a horrible feeling in my tummy and just cross fingers and toes that no incident occurs while I am travelling on it. The easiest way to become a victim, especially if you are on a road as notorious as the N2, is to break down.

In far too many instances, this could have been avoided. So make sure that you service your car regularly. Check your tyres every single time you fill up your car, this way it will become a habit. The less tread you’ve got on your tyres, the more susceptible you are to flat tyres and blowouts. If you have a flat tyre in a dark or dangerous location, drive slowly to the nearest service station or public place. Even if you ruin the tyre or rim, you will not have risked your life.

And make sure that all your fluids, such as oil and brake fluids, are at the correct levels. Check that your windscreen wipers work properly. Basically, keep your car in the best condition possible to avoid being stranded on the side of the road, alone!

PLAN AHEAD

If you are unsure of a route, prepare yourself. Go on to Google Maps and learn the route BEFORE you start driving. This way, if you lose signal for some reason, you will still have an idea of where to go.

Tell someone where you are headed and what time you are expected to arrive. Don’t drive in to unknown areas, especially at night, if you can help it…and especially if they are renowned hotspots for criminal activity. Change your route to avoid such areas.

Always ensure that your phone is fully charged and near by in case of an emergency. Keep a charging cable in your car. Your phone is your friend. As soon as I leave for the N2 or on a long journey, I put an emergency number on my phone so that I will just have to press call and not have to search for the number. It is all about being as prepared as possible.

KICK ASS

If you do find yourself stuck on the side of the road for some reason, whether it be because you have broken down or because you have been involved in a minor accident, stay in your car, with the doors locked until emergency personal have arrived to assist you.

But before you even head out on a journey, ensure you have mace or pepper spray in your car. This way, if it is required, you can always pop the criminal in the face and make a run for it. Even if it is just to give you that extra sense of security when you’re driving alone.

14 TIPS TO KEEP YOU SAFE

  • When stopped in traffic, leave enough space to pull out from behind the car you are following.
  • Lock all doors and roll up the windows while you drive.
  • Be especially cautious when you approach intersections crowded with street vendors, newspaper sellers, beggars and street kids.
  • Keep your valuables – laptop, handbag, mobile phone – out of sight.
  • Drivers are often distracted at their window by a person only to be robbed by his con partner on the other side.
  • Should you wish to interact with someone alongside the vehicle, open the window only a few centimetres to talk.
  • NEVER give lifts to strangers /hitchhikers.
  • Beware of anyone who signals that there is something wrong with your car unless you are certain they are right and it would be dangerous to drive on.
  • If you suspect that you are being followed, drive on to the nearest police station or a busy place to get help. Inform emergency services.
  • Sound the horn in potentially dangerous situations.
  • Avoid distractions while driving – Keep the volume of your car radio at a reasonable level so you are aware of your surroundings and, tempting as it may be to check phone messages or update Facebook and Twitter while in traffic, it is illegal to be on your phone at all while driving. Invest in a Bluetooth system so you are able to make emergency calls.
  • Driver distractions will leave you vulnerable to hijackers and smash-and-grab thugs who could use the element of surprise to creep up on you.
  • Avoid engaging with strangers on the road.
  • In the event of an incident of road rage, don’t get into a verbal exchange, just take the high road and ignore the person.

PARKING

  • Always park in a central, well-lit place, preferably where there are attendants on duty or people passing by.
  • Note which floor and area you have parked in, and have your keys ready when you return.
  • Try to park so that you will approach the driver’s side of the car when you return. You won’t be surprised by someone who is crouching by the door.
  • 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. Experts say you’re most vulnerable when you are getting in or out of your car.
  • If there is a large vehicle or suspicious looking car parked next to yours, or even if you feel uneasy about approaching your vehicle, rather find a security guard or car guard to walk you to yours.
  • If no one is available, look for a nearby couple or group of people and either ask for an escort or simply blend in with them should they be walking in the direction of your vehicle.
  • When approaching your vehicle, regardless of where you have parked it, always walk around it to check for any irregularities.
  • Wait until you’re close to the car before unlocking it, and if the car design allows it, unlock the driver’s door only.
  • Avoid conversations on your phone as you return to the car as this will only distract you.
  • Do not fiddle with your handbag and do not lean too far into the boot.
  • Some security experts even advise women with long hair to tie it back for a clearer, all-around vision.
  • Position your body and trolley in a manner which would give you an advantage over a would-be attacker.
  • Check the back seat before getting into the car, even if you left it with the doors locked.
  • Be particularly vigilant with regard to your wheels, as often criminals place sharp objects either behind or in front of your tyres in an attempt to puncture them, or when placing goods into your boot.
  • If you park on the street always choose a busy, well-lit place.
    Source: ArriveAlive

THE FINAL SAY

It is such an awful thing to not be safe on our roads, not just because of potential accidents, but due to the high level of crime in this beautiful country. The best thing we can do is be prepared and be aware. I might not be able to avoid an awful situation, but I sure as sh*t am going give it a damn good attempt. And so should you!

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