Driving alone for women especially at night is fraught with danger. Admittedly, anyone faces danger when driving alone especially at night, however, it is no exaggeration to make the argument that the potential for danger is more heightened for women. Solitary female drivers continue to be disproportionately targeted by unsavoury characters. Risks when driving alone range from carjacking and abductions to accidents, car breakdowns and sexual assault. Here are a few safety tips for when you’re driving solo.
1. Take care of your car
Make every effort to stay on top of your car maintenance as needed. Have your car regularly serviced especially before long drives. Keep your battery in shape, change your oil as needed and have an experienced mechanic give your car a once-over at every oil change. Keep your car tuned up, check your tires and never go below a half tank. This prioritizes your safety even before you get on the road.
2. Call for help and stay in your car
In the event that your car breaks down, call for help and stay in your car with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. Have a reliable man on your speed dial who can be counted on to come through should you find yourself in trouble. Ensure you have an insurance package that comes with 24-hour roadside assistance. You should also pay for memberships like AA so that you can get assistance if you need it. It will certainly be more expensive but the peace of mind that comes with it not to mention the help should you ever need it far outweigh the monetary cost. Regardless, unless it’s sinking or on fire, stay in your car.
3. Keep your cellphone charged
You need to be able to call for help should you need it. Finding yourself at battery low is not outside the realm of possibility which is why it’s important to have a mobile charger in your car at all times. If possible have at least one in your car and a backup in your purse, they are cheap enough to keep spares on you. Also, make sure you have a charged power bank in your car.
4. Tinted windows
Consider getting tinted windows. This keeps people from being able to see into the vehicle and determine how many passengers are present or even the gender of the occupants. This is especially important to protect you from people who perceive women as weaker and therefore as prime targets.
5. Share your itinerary with someone
Women have long practised this in different ways. We always let each other know when we get home after a meet-up. Everybody has to check-in and confirm that they got home okay. In the age of taxi-apps, we share our routes and drive information including the driver’s name, number and vehicle plates. If you’re driving alone at night, especially for long-distance trips, let someone have your full itinerary with you giving constant updates.
6. Know how to change your own tires
It’s important to know how to change your own tires should you ever need to do it. Keep a pair of jeans, work gloves and sturdy shoes should you need to change your tire on a day when you’re not really dressed for it. It’s also a good idea to have some running or walking shoes in the event that you need to walk some distance for help and it’s safe to do so.
7. Water and snacks
Always have some emergency drinking water at hand. Keep at least a 5 ltr bottle of drinking water and some extra 10 ltr of car water when on a trip. Also, keep some energy bars or drinks in the car.
The usual safety advice including not stopping to help stranded people or giving rides to strangers stands. Before a long drive, eat well and get plenty of sleep and along the journey maintain situational awareness. It remains a problem that women are disproportionately targeted and forced to adopt so many changes just in order to stay safe. Society has a long way to go and so much more to do to when it comes to patriarchal views and misogyny.
8. Lock your doors
Make it a habit to lock your doors when you enter the car. Also, keep your windows up.
Travelling long distance, 14 Ways To Ensure Your Safety During Long-Distance Travel and check out 13 Precautionary Safety Measures For Women Staying Alone In A Hotel Room
Here’s a great collection of safety tips for when your children have to travel alone. Also, check out 5 Exciting Things To Do During A RoadTrip