Important Safety Tips For Women Drivers
Study after study confirms that behind the wheel, women are safer drivers than men. We’re more inclined to drive with seat belts on and two hands on the wheel, and we’re less likely to speed or drive with a blood alcohol level above 0.08%.
The safety challenge comes from external factors. Even though we’re strong, empowered, independent women, we’re still seen as vulnerable. Ever felt nervous in a parking garage? Ever had a suspicion a car was following yours? You’re not alone.
To help you be more vigilant in order to avoid falling prey to intimidation, theft, or worse, we’ll cover the top safety tips for women in parking situations, how to stay safe while driving, and how to prepare for and deal with emergencies, such as never leaving home without a car emergency kit.
Safety While Parking
If you feel a little skittish in parking lots and parking garages, you’re not being paranoid. Your feeling is justified. More than 1 in 10 property crimes occur in parking lots or garages, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Let’s help reduce your chances of becoming a statistic.
Parking Lot and Garage Safety Tips
Take the following precautions:
- Park in a central, well-lit space. Also park as close to the front of the store as possible or as close to the elevators as possible.
- Back your car in. Not only can you better see obstructions than if you’re backing out, but it allows for a quicker exit if need be.
- Park so that you’ll be approaching the driver’s side when you return. This way you will avoid being surprised by someone crouching by your door.
- Avoid parking where your view will be blocked when you return to your vehicle.
- Pause and do a quick scan before you exit your car.
- Carry pepper spray or a personal security alarm such as a noisemaker or screamer. If you’re near your vehicle, you can push your car key’s emergency button to set off the car horn.
- When walking to and from your car, scan the area and pay full attention. For example, don’t look at your cellphone or listen to a podcast on your earbuds.
- Don’t dawdle in your car. Don’t leave your doors unlocked or a door open; for example, don’t dig in your purse for your sunglasses or put away credit cards in your wallet.
- Keep doors locked when you’re inside your car..
- Make note of exactly where you parked. Also, have your keys ready when you return.
- When you get to your car, walk around it to check for any objects. Criminals will place sharp objects behind or in front of tires in an attempt to puncture them.
- Check the backseat before you get into your car.
- In parking garages, walk in the middle of the aisles and ramps until you reach your destination.
- Keep walking if you’re approached. Criminals use the tactic of trying to stop you to ask a seemingly innocuous question, from what time it is, to directions, to asking for help with car trouble.
- Avoid displaying non-verbal signals that you’re vulnerable. Have a striding walk, good posture, and an alert demeanor.
Safety While Driving
What’s the best thing you can do to avoid unsafe situations? Read and abide by your owner’s manual for your vehicle. A well-maintained auto is less likely to break down while you’re driving.
Get your car serviced regularly by a reputable garage. And if you notice a fault, get it fixed promptly rather than waiting for it to get worse or hoping it just goes away.
Also keep an eye on your tire pressure and tire condition. Fill your fuel tank when it’s half empty rather than waiting for the warning light.
In addition to those safety-enhancing driving prep tips, here are do’s and don’ts for driving:
- Cellphone: Ensure it’s fully charged.
- Doors and windows: Keep them locked and rolled up.
- Valuables: Keep them out of sight.
- Distractions: Be aware of your surroundings at all times. This includes not playing music too loud to not averting your eyes to your cellphone to check for messages while you’re sitting at a red light.
- Crowded intersections: Be cautious when approaching.
- Stopped in traffic: Always try to leave enough space to be able to pull out from behind the vehicle in front of you.
- Directions: Use a reliable GPS
- Nighttime driving: Don’t drive after dark into areas you don’t know if you can avoid it. GPS isn’t always 100% accurate, and a connection isn’t always guaranteed.
- Good samaritan: Despite good intentions, don’t play one when you’re driving. Never give a ride to hitchhikers or other strangers.
- Unsolicited assistance: Avoid and don’t engage with strangers. If someone tries to get your attention, even if they signal there is something wrong with your vehicle, just drive on or turn at the next intersection. If you feel you need to interact with someone alongside your vehicle, only open the window a crack to talk.
- Road rage situations: Don’t get into a verbal exchange with someone displaying road rage. Take the high road and ignore the problem person.
- Other dangers: If you suspect you’re being followed, drive to the nearest police station or busy place to get help. And if you feel you’re in a potentially dangerous situation, sound the horn.
Safety in Vehicle Emergencies
There are certain supplies you should have in your vehicle at all times for everyday safety, not just occasionally for road trip safety.
Keep Emergency Car Kits
Yes, two kits — or even three — are better than one. While you can’t plan for every eventuality, you can prepare for a majority of outcomes with a little advance effort to be safe, comfortable, and in some cases even able to proceed on your own without waiting for help.
Here are the optimal in-vehicle kits and suggestions of what they should contain:
|First Aid Kit
|Tire Changing Kit
|Fully inflated spare time
|Flashlight and batteries
Learn Auto Maintenance
The more you empower yourself with being able to handle basic fixes, the fewer your chances of becoming the proverbial damsel in distress.
So learn how to change a tire, jump-start the battery, or change a wiper blade. This reduces the need to depend on others, and the amount of time you’re stranded in your vehicle awaiting help. An added benefit is that you’ll save money.
Invest in Roadside Assistance
Your emergency kits will aid you after you’ve pulled over and turned on your hazard lights and while you’re waiting for help. And you may be able to DIY on minor emergencies. But you also need to do some prep to know how and where to get help.
Find a roadside assistance program and add those emergency numbers to your phone. The optimal program you’re looking for would include towing, battery services, flat tire replacements, fuel deliveries, lockout services, on-site repairs, and winching.
Although AAA may be the most well-known regarding roadside assistance, luckily there are many such programs from which to choose — including your car insurance policy, which can provide roadside assistance as an add-on and usually for a very affordable fee.
The best roadside assistance programs from major auto insurers are Allstate, Geico, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, and USAA.
And other than AAA, standalone roadside assistance programs are also offered by AARP, Better World Club, CARCHEX, OnStar, and Paragon Motor Club — as well as by some companies that may surprise you, such as American Express and Verizon.
Since each roadside assistance program offers not only different pricing but also different coverages and restrictions, check out what your own insurance provides and then compare their quote and coverage with other programs to pick what best suits your needs.
We hope we’ve raised your awareness about how to prepare for certain situations. These tips should help make being a woman driver less dangerous and reduce anxiety behind the wheel.
Authored by Karen Condor
Karen is an insurance expert who writes and researches about vehicle and driving safety issues for the auto insurance comparison site, BuyAutoInsurance.com.