South Africa’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence kicked off on 25 November. Women drivers are an easy target for criminals – due to distractions like small children – and are therefore often victims of smash-and-grabs, intimidation and hijacking, it’s a good time to brush up on tips for keeping safe on the road.
We asked our very own Andrea Bogner to provide us with some useful hints and tips to keep women safe while on the road. Andrea is also participating in a MasterDrive Chat this month and we will share a copy of that podcast with you early in the new year.
- Make sure the basics are in place: women should always drive with a fully charged phone (equipped with a GPS and with emergency numbers saved) and a charger just in case, and a full tank of petrol. It’s also a good idea to carry jumper cables and a tow rope, a torch and triangles, an emergency first aid kit, water, oil, antifreeze and a blanket.
- It’s important to have some fundamental knowledge around cars, like how to change a tyre, how to refill a water bottle or radiator, how to top up engine oil and how to jump start a car. This means that you don’t have to depend on anyone in case of minor accidents or vehicle fails.
- Plan the route before leaving home, always choosing the most familiar streets.
- Try not to drive alone, especially at night and in unfamiliar areas.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to street vendors and pedestrians – knowing which people are around you and what they are doing can prevent you from becoming a victim of a hijacking or smash-and-grab.
- All doors should be locked when you drive, and windows must be closed.
- If someone tries to flag you down or signal that there is something wrong with their car, don’t stop unless you were already aware of a pre-existing issue. Drive to the nearest filling station if you suspect that there really is a problem.
- Keep an eye out for people following you as you drive.
- Stay off your phone to avoid distractions, and make sure that your children are buckled in. Remind them to not to make a noise, so that you can concentrate on driving.
- Keep a safe distance from the car in front of you when stopped at robots, so that you can make a quick getaway if you have to.