The recent gang rape in Delhi has highlighted the appalling safety offered by public transport in our cities. However, women who drive their own vehicles are equally at risk from being assaulted or robbed. Here are some tips women can follow to stay safe on the road.
1. Learn the basics: Apart from learning to drive, it is important that the driver does a few basic checks before driving off to avoid unwanted stops.
• A simple glance to check that all tyres are properly inflated can save you a lot of trouble.
• Make sure you check that there is enough fuel in the tank. If not, fill up at the nearest station to avoid having to fill up in an unknown or secluded location.
• Routinely check under the bonnet to see if there is enough coolant, brake oil and windshield washer fluid.
• While driving off during the day check to see that the vehicle has not leaked any fluid while pulling out of the parking lot.
• It is a good idea to check the spare tyre, if there is enough air in it from time to time.
• After sending in the vehicle for a service, ensure that the spare tyre, tyre iron and wheel nut spanner are intact.
2. Service your vehicle: Take your vehicle in for periodic maintenance to avoid breakdowns occurring at the wrong time. If the vehicle is making any strange noise, take it to a service centre as soon as possible.
3. Changing tyres: Learning to drive is not enough, one must crucially know how to change a flat tyre. More and more women drivers are going in for SUVs for their dominating road presence, what they do not realise is that they also have bigger wheels. Full-sized SUVs have such heavy wheels that it takes two grown men to lift one wheel. So, it may be a good idea to stick to a premium hatchback if an SUV is not really required.
4. The business of parking: A moving car is a difficult target. It’s the parking spots, especially the not so well-lit ones, goons target to rob a victim. Do not park in dark and isolated areas. Paid parking lots are usually safer. Do not park next to commercial vehicles such as vans as it is easier for criminals to hide in them.
5. Don’t fumble for keys: Keep your car keys ready in your hand before arriving near your car. Get in the car quickly and lock the doors immediately. It’s advisable to keep a can of pepper spray handy, just in case.
6. Use vehicle’s security features: Vehicle security systems have a button or a combination to set off the alarm system. In case there is an attack near the car set off the alarm, drop any luggage you might be carrying, run and make lots of noise – it usually prevents criminals from proceeding with their attack.
7. Keep a lookout: While walking to the vehicle keep a look out for suspicious looking vehicles or people in the parking lot. If there is anything suspicious back off and get a friend or an attendant to take a look.
8. Do not stop for strangers: Avoid stopping on roads or pulling down the windows for people wanting to ask for directions. Even if people ask for directions from another car avoid them and continue on your way as many instances have been reported of people being dragged into another vehicle while asking for directions with the motive of robbery or assault.
9. Get a GPS device: Portable GPS devices are available on the market from Rs. 8,000 onwards. Install one in your vehicle so you don’t have to stop at unknown locations at odd hours to ask for directions from strangers.
10. Let someone know, have a back up: Whenever leaving for a destination let someone close to you know where you are going, especially on long journeys. In case there is a problem call 100 to alert the police, if you know someone nearby call for help. Familiarise yourself with police stations that fall en route your home and office so you could drive there in case you are chased by unruly elements.
If you have any points that you would like to put forth to ensure safety and security for ladies do let us know in comments.