When you’re a woman driving alone, car crashes are not the only risk you face. Hijacking, abduction and falling prey to a police impersonator all pose additional hazards. Most crimes involving women drivers occur when they are heading to or away from their cars – particularly in parking lots. So says MiWay’s head of online marketing, Rory Judd.

A simple lapse of attention, such as failing to lock your car door before starting your engine, can provide the ideal opportunity for an aggressor to quickly approach from your blind spot, open the door and either pull you from the vehicle or enter from the passenger door.

Here are five tips for women driving alone, especially at night:

Plan your trip

Before driving off on an errand, or when returning home late, have the route mapped out in your head. This is important because if you’re lost, you’re more vulnerable. You should plan your trip and keep to well-lit areas. Don’t drive in dark areas if you are not familiar with the surroundings. It is advisable to vary your route home where possible.

Be alert

Always be alert for suspicious activity. Don’t stop next to the road for a hitchhiker or someone who looks like they need help – it could be a trap. Park in a well-lit area where possible, avoiding areas which are dark or look unsafe. Don’t linger in your car if you are parked – you make it easy for predators to target you. Pay particular attention when arriving at home and entering gates, driveways and garages. Many people drop their guard as they approach the familiarity of home; attackers know this and will take advantage when you are distracted and vulnerable.

Vehicle maintenance

A well-maintained car is less likely to break down; keep your car in a good mechanical condition and have it serviced regularly. It is advisable to learn how to change a tyre, if you don’t already know how to. Keep your insurance roadside assistance number stored on your cellphone so that you can quickly call if your car has broken down. MiWay’s 24 Hour Emergency Assistance hotline is 08600 767 64.

Cellphone and security companies

Ensure that your cellphone is always charged in case anything happens. You should also let people know where you are going and your estimated time of arrival. If you have a home security company and notice any suspicious behaviour in your neighbourhood, contact them. If patrollers are in the area, many security companies will make their personnel available to escort you home.

Never stop for anyone

In this day and age it’s hard to trust anyone. If someone looks like they need help, use your phone to call police or emergency services, but do not stop. If a police vehicle tries to pull you over, keep on driving until you can pull over in a well-lit area, preferably one which is likely to have CCTV cameras operating – such as a petrol or police station. Should the vehicle following you be genuine police, they will approach you. If they are indeed police and you still feel unsafe, you should not exit the vehicle. You have the right to drive to the nearest police station. Therefore, make sure you know the police stations in your area.

The best way to minimize your chances of becoming a target is to be cautious at all times, be aware of your surroundings, look out for anything out of the ordinary or suspicious, and practice safe driving behaviours.

Article credit: http://www.marketingupdate.co.za/?IDStory=72143