While women may have lower insurance premiums due to the consideration that they are better drivers, they do however, have higher risks when it comes to being targets for criminal activity.
This articles highlights some points that women, especially those who travel alone frequently, should think of in order to keep themselves safe on South Africa’s roads.
Firstly, always remember that if you look after your car, it will look after you. A car that is well maintained and serviced with regular check ups will be far less likely to break down leaving you stranded in a random and potentially even dangerous place.
If you are going to an unfamiliar place, you should always try and plan your route so that you have an idea of what surroundings you will be going through, so that you can take well lit main roads and to ensure that you don’t get lost – being lost can be very dangerous. Driving with a reputable and updated GPS will also be highly beneficial to you as mapbooks may require you to pull over to read, making you a vulnerable and distracted target. Lastly, ensure that when you travel you have emergency numbers programmed into your cellphone as well as ensuring that you have a charged battery.
While you are driving make sure that all doors are locked, windows are up and that your valuables are out of sight. Always avoid distractions while driving to help you stay alert and be wary of vendors distracting you or people trying to tell you there might be something wrong with your car. Unless you are certain there is something wrong with your car refrain from pulling over.
Be vigilant at stops and if you can, refrain from pulling over or lingering at stops. At night slow down when approaching a red light so that when it turns green you are still cruising towards it.
However, if being cautious cannot be helped in the event of a break down, you can still do as much as possible to stay safe. If you can feel that your car is verging on breaking down, try making your way to the nearest possible well-lit or busy area such as a petrol station. If you have to pull over to the side of the road try to get as far off the road as possible, turn your hazard lights on and stay locked in your car to call for help. Even if someone tries to help or lend a phone, just crack the window a little to engage in conversation. Unfortunately we live in a country that has high gender violence crimes and a woman alone faces higher risks than any one else. Because of this reason, it is better to only trust people you know you can undoubtedly rely on.
In the event that you feel that you are being followed by someone, turn into a different road from what you would normally take, but ensure you take note of road names and surrounding areas. If the following persists, take more twists and turns to confirm. Do not stop or even try to speed away from the driver, remain calm and try get to your nearest fuel or police station, even a full shopping centre will be good as there is strength in numbers.
When it comes to parking and returning to your parked car you should also remain vigilant. Always try park in busy and well-lit areas and take note of where you are parked. Being lost can land you in trouble. Make sure you have your key ready to unlock your car, fumbling in your bag for keys can make you vulnerable to attack because you are distracted.
Being aware and vigilant can go a long way to keeping yourself safe regardless of who you are or who you are with. Sometimes an emergency cannot be helped, but it’s always best to remain calm enough to think through the best possible plan to keep yourself safe on South Africa’s roads.