You might have read news stories about lone drivers, often women, who have been attacked when driving alone.
Did you ever have just a fleeting though, maybe something like ... "That could have been me!" A breakdown on a motorway... An assault in a car park... Running out of petrol on a country lane...
If you have ever felt uncomfortable at the thought of situations like this you will find practical and useful advice in this area.
This page has information about
Planning for safety
Planning your route
Making your journey safer
How to avoid breakdowns
Dealing with breakdowns
Parking and getting to and from your car safely
What to do if you think someone is following
How to survive if you are stopped
Planning for Safety
A little planning can go a long way to ensuring your safety when driving alone. A lot of the time things that some people might consider to be bad luck are simply down to bad planning - or no planning at all. Whether or not you have concerns about driving alone, a little planning can make your journeys easier and safer.
Breakdown protection: Perhaps the first thing on the good planning list is breakdown protection. If you don't belong to a rescue service. Join one today! Being able to call for help is essential if a problem arises. Check whether your insurance company has an emergency assistance number; you might already have breakdown cover as part of your policy and haven't realised!Carry your breakdown emergency membership card with you and keep a list of emergency phone numbers in your vehicles glove box, wallet or handbag - ideally programmed into your phone.
Tell a friend: Does someone know where you are going? Gain peace of mind on long journeys by telling a friend where you are going and when you expect to arrive. You might want to arrange to make 'I'm OK' phone calls at intervals during your trip or when you get to your destination.
Not got a phone? If you don't own a mobile phone, consider getting one for emergency use only...
Useful stuff to have in the car:
A map or Sat-Nav - preferably both
The car's handbook
Tissues or a cloth
Emergency cash (hidden securely)
A few coins (for parking meters, tolls, etc)
First aid kit
Plan your route
Route planning in advance will save a lot of potential frustration. Make a note of the major towns on route and smaller places that might be signposted.
If you are using the motorway network, make a note of the junction exit numbers you need (looking for exit numbers is often easier than reading all the directions on a route sign).
Write your plan in large letters so that you can read it easily by simply glancing at it when driving without being distracted from the road.
If you need to consult a map, find a safe place to stop.
The following links will take you to useful online route planning services:
Making your journey safer
There are quite a lot of commonsense things that you can do to ensure that you remain safe during your journey.
Perhaps the first an most obvious advice, whether alone or not, is to make sure that you are fit to drive. Don't set out on a trip if you are tired, emotionally upset or if have been drinking alcohol.
It might be worth noting that some driving phobias can be traced back to seemingly uneventful journeys where the driver has been emotionally upset or pondering over a major problem such as a divorce or bereavement. If you do have to drive at times of stress, remind yourself that the problems are not linked to the driving but are a totally separate part of your life.
Lock It or Lose It
You will generally feel more secure, especially in built up areas if you lock your car doors. This will prevent opportunist thieves from trying to grab stuff from your cat in traffic jams or when stopped at lights.
It is also a good idea to keep purses, wallets, handbags and other desirable pickings out of sight. It has been known for thieves to smash the windows of vehicles parked in traffic to grab a bag, phone, camera or other 'booty'.
When getting fuel, lock the car before you fill up. Not only can thieves steal your car, but they get a full tank of petrol as part of the deal ... And you are left stuck at a garage, perhaps in a strange town.
Avoid attracting attention to yourself. If someone cuts you up, stay cool and just let them go. If others want to overtake, let them. The further away you are from aggressive drivers, the better!
Stranger danger: We teach our kids to beware of strangers... You should do the same when driving alone. Avoid picking up hitch hikers, male or female, or accepting lifts from strangers (if you break down).
How to avoid breakdowns
If you are unlucky enough to breakdown a few simple safety precautions will avoid a mishap becoming a crisis!
If you suspect that you have a problem, look for a safe place to stop where you car can easily be see (to avoid accident danger). Turn off the ignition and switch on your hazard lights.
Use your mobile phone to call for help, stress that you are travelling alone, especially if you are female and/or have children with you. Be cautious of others who offer to help - use your commonsense and follow the advice given elsewhere in this section.
If you need to get out of the car beware of traffic - use the nearside doors for safety, especially on fast roads such as motorways and dual carriageways. If you have to move away from your car do it purposefully - a positive attitude will often deter anyone with malicious intent. If you leave your car, lock it.
There are lots of situations where you can take action to minimise risk by a little forward planning when you arrive at your destination. This information is designed to raise your awareness of potential parking 'trouble spots' so that you can avoid them or, alternatively, take specific action to stay safe.
Choosing a parking space: Park on the ground floor of multi-storey car parks; if this is not possible, park near the stairs or lift, away from pillars and alcoves. In open car parks park as near to the pedestrian exit as possible, well away from shrubs and bushes. At night park in well lit areas. Learn to reverse into spaces at the side of the road ... This will often enable you to park nearer to your destination.
Reverse into car park spaces: With a little practise reversing in becomes easier and safer than driving in. There is less shunting backwards and forwards and therefore less opportunity for scrapes and bumps, or running into children! Equally as important is the fact that it is easier to 'get away' if you are under threat (or perceive that you might be). You can simply drive forwards, even if a would be assailant manages to open one of the doors.
Returning to your car: At night, get someone to walk with you if your car is in a 'quiet' place (you can then give them a lift back). Have your keys ready and look through the windows to check behind the seats before getting into the car. If you have an unwelcome approach, lock the doors, start the engine and sound the horn (lots!).