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Driving Tips 'Safety for Women'

Jan 28, 2013

Women drivers, particularly when driving alone, can feel vulnerable. The following measures can increase peace of mind and safety for women drivers.

LOOK AFTER YOUR CAR

It’s important to service your car regularly and check oil, water, windscreen washer and brake fluids particularly before long journeys. Check tyre pressure and condition of your tyres and renew damaged or worn tyres, including the spare. Attend to any faults promptly.

KNOW THE CAR

When driving a new or hired car, make sure you know the basics before setting out. Which side is the fuel cap on? Where’s the spare wheel? Familiarise yourself with the controls, in particular horn, lights and windscreen wipers. Understand the automatic locking system.

KNOW WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF BREAKDOWN

Be prepared. Be sure to join a reputable breakdown service, and keep the telephone number with you at all times. Women driving alone are generally given top priority when they break down. Always carry a mobile phone, charged and with sufficient credit, and keep a coat, sensible shoes, a torch, pen, paper and loose change in your car.

If you break down, if possible, drive to a well lit, busy area before calling for help and keep your doors locked while waiting. Ask to see the mechanic’s proof of identity before opening a window or unlocking your car.

On the motorway, try to stop at a phone or walk to the nearest phone, indicated by a marker. Tell the police if you are alone. Get in and out of the car on the passenger side and wait on the bank or behind a barrier – the risk of being hurt in an accident on the hard shoulder is far greater than of being attacked. If anyone stops, get in the car, lock the doors and open the window no more than half an inch to speak.

Ideally, you should know how to change a wheel. However, wheel nuts are often too tight to remove, so if you have a puncture, try the wheel nuts before taking the spare wheel and jack out of the boot. If you can’t undo them, call for help. After changing the wheel, drive to the nearest garage to have it checked. Beware of passing traffic if changing an offside wheel on a motorway. Get the car as far into the hard shoulder as possible.

PLAN YOUR JOURNEY

Plan your journey and let people know your route and when to expect you. Take route maps (and reading glasses!) or use a satellite navigation system if available. Stick to main roads and avoid driving alone at night.

ON YOUR JOURNEY

Drive with your doors and boot locked and your valuables out of sight. Only open your windows partially, particularly in town. Beware of anyone unexpected trying to flag you down or signalling there’s something wrong with your car. Never give lifts to strangers.

If parking on the street, choose a busy, well–lit area and avoid dark secluded areas in car parks. Don’t leave possessions on view, especially anything that indicates you are a woman driver. On returning to your car, have your keys ready but don’t open the car until you’re close, and drive off quickly.

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