A woman’s guide to safety in the car
Most women drivers spend time in the car alone, but worrying about vehicle breakdown and risks to security or personal safety can leave many feeling vulnerable and lacking in confidence. However, just a few simple measures can cut down on uncertainty and help you stay safe while driving solo.
Keep your car in tip-top condition
Not all mechanical failures can be prevented, but by keeping your car well serviced you will reduce the risk of an unscheduled stop.
Also, make sure you fill up with fuel well before you run low, particularly when entering areas with which you are unfamiliar.
Prepare for every eventuality
Being prepared for a car breakdown will stop you worrying and help you deal with any problems should they arise. So...
- Always make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged.
- Ensure that your spare tyre is fully inflated and that you have the tools and know-how to change a wheel, or appropriate breakdown cover if you don’t.
- Let someone know your travel plans, including your intended route and approximate time of arrival.
- Have an emergency pack in the boot of your car that includes items such as a hazard triangle, warm blanket, high visibility waterproof jacket, a torch and spare batteries. Always carry a bottle of drinking water and something to snack on.
There are simple measures you can take to improve your level of security and personal safety. While there’s no need to drive around in a perpetual state of anxiety, it’s worth following a few basic rules for peace of mind:
- Keep the doors locked and the windows wound up when driving in built up areas.
- If someone other than the police tries to get you to pull over, don’t stop but drive on to the next petrol station. Check your car for faults but if you find none, report the incident to the police.
- If you need to pull over at night, do so in a brightly lit place and if you are unsure of the area, stay in the car and do not open the door.
- Don’t drive with your handbag or valuables on the passenger seat or in open view.
Try to park in an open, well lit area if possible. Don’t leave any valuables on show and, of course, lock all doors and close all windows, even if you’re only leaving the car for a short while.
When returning to the car, be sure to have your car key ready in your hand to avoid delays or fumbling around in your bag. Don’t leave your bag on the floor while unlocking your car - keep a firm grasp of it at all times.
If you are, say, leaving work in the dark and are nervous about returning to your car on your own, ask a trusted friend of colleague to walk with you.
- Avoid getting lost by using a sat nav - but carry a road atlas, too, as back-up.
- Become a member of a national breakdown service and keep the helpline number in a prominent place in the car. Many breakdown services prioritise women travelling alone or with children.
- Make sure that you have adequate car insurance. Policies differ considerably, so check that yours gives you all the cover you need.