In the past, Women With Wheels would publish a reminder to women about their personal safety when driving to and from, such as navigating parking lots, returning to your car after shopping, walking alone, what to do if you’re being followed and stopping at a light, etc.
The article would appear around the holiday time as most people are out shopping for the season. While still applicable, these safety tips apply today even though going to the mall isn’t the way many of us shop anymore. Nevertheless, women may find these tips helpful as they navigate what could be unsafe territory.
What should you do when you are leaving your vehicle in a parking lot? If the lot is an attended lot, leave only your car’s ignition key. Don’t leave any valuables in sight, rather, place them in your car’s trunk, preferably before you enter the lot. And finally, don’t forget your claim check. When asked how long you will be gone, give them a time that is actually sooner than you expect to be.
If the lot is unattended and you park your vehicle yourself, choose a spot near a light, if possible. Lock all the doors, be alert for any occupied cars around you-make a mental note. When returning to your car, travel in a group, if possible. Leave and arrive at popular times and have your keys in your hand, ready to unlock the vehicle. Remember to check the back seat of your car/SUV, and underneath the vehicle as you’re walking toward it. Place your purse or backpack behind the driver’s seat rather than on the passenger seat. As soon as you enter the car, lock the doors, if they don’t do so automatically.
When you are walking to your vehicle, be alert to all that is around you. If you sense you are being followed, go to the nearest door, or anywhere where there are people. If you are attacked, don’t fight back. Yell, “Fire” and make a lot of noise. Some women think acting ‘crazy’ is a good deterrent. I often carry my car keys in my hand with the sharp end of the keys facing outward. Mace is also a good weapon. Whatever you do, don’t be fumbling in your bag.
When traveling in your vehicle and stopping at a red light, try to keep enough room between your car and the one ahead of you so you are able to maneuver your way out. “Bump and Rob” happens in crowded areas, generally city environments. If you suspect that is what is taking place, lay on the horn.
If you happen to be traveling somewhere unfamiliar and you find yourself lost, pull over and remain calm. Often going back the way you came helps set you straight. At least some of it is familiar. Most of us have GPS in our vehicles and/or on our phones so getting lost is not as common today as it once was. In the old days, you could feel safe stopping at a gas station and asking for directions. However, today, there isn’t always an attendant that can assist you. And unless you are familiar with the area, locating a police station isn’t always possible.
Should you suspect you are being followed, plug in the nearest police station on your GPS. And, if possible, get the car’s license plate number, and write it down. I keep a pad of paper and pen in my center console.
Some miscellaneous dos-and-don’ts: Don’t hide your keys under the car mat, over the sun visor or under the car’s fender. When you go somewhere tell someone where you’re going, especially if it’s a trip of considerable distance and in unfamiliar areas. Share your route with a friend. Before you leave, plan your route so you can eliminate altogether, or at least minimize the chances of getting lost. When you’re traveling the same route day after day, vary it.
Some of us are planners and feel more relaxed when knowing where we are headed. For others, just jumping in the car and taking off is how we operate. Whether we realize it or not, being prepared is always a good thing. Subscribing to AAA is one of the best things I’ve done for myself.
Being extra vigilant saves lives. So many of us drive places and have no recollection of how we got there. We have so much on our minds, it’s hard to be present. But it could save your life.
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