Vehicle Safety Tips for Women
on How to Avoid Danger on the Road
For many women, driving alone can be a fearful experience. If the car breaks down, women are vulnerable.
of feeling helpless, women can take steps to reduce the chances they
will be victims," said Sergeant Pam Marshack, a specialist in women's safety with the Delaware State Police.
Always lock the doors and keep the windows up. "Then one of the
most important things...is to be alert," Marschack said. "That
means you pay attention, you're looking and listening around you.. You don't just take a quick scan and forget
example, when coming to a stoplight, look around to see if anyone
is nearby, she said. If someone appears threatening or approaches
the car, drive away, even if it means going through the light — assuming
you can do that without risking a collision.
stopping, make sure you have what Marshack calls a "grace space."
By that she means enough room between your vehicle and the next so
you could pull out. "If you're pinned in [traffic], blare the
horn, getting the attention of good people," she said. Don't
wait for something bad to happen. Take action to avoid
need to learn to trust their instincts," she noted. "Time
and again, crime victims tell police they sensed danger but ignored
the feeling. Don't try to second-guess the intuitive feelings."
Also, pay attention to your location so you can, if necessary, tell
favorite trick is rear-ending other vehicles to get them to stop to
allow a robbery, assault or carjacking. "A person's first instinct
is to jump out of the car and look at the damage, " Marshack
informed us. "My suggestion is you don't do that."
she said, turn on the emergency blinkers so the person knows you're
aware of being struck. If it is night, turn on your dome light so
they can see you and motion for the other car to follow. Don't worry
about leaving the scene of an accident. "Your safety is paramount,"
Marshack added. "You're still going to call the police, but you're
putting yourself in a safer environment."
to a public place with lots of people and lights. "Don't go home,
even if it's around the corner. If it is a bad guy, you don't want
him to know where you live," she said.
the car is so badly damaged that you can't drive away, then it's unlikely
the other driver is anything but a poor driver. Carjackers don't want
to damage the vehicle, said Marschack.
the roads are slippery and it seems obvious the accident wasn't manufactured,
it may be safe to stay. But if anything seems out of the ordinary, trust your instincts
not a big problem, but there have been incidents of people in similar
cars to an unmarked police car," Marshack informed us. She suggests
that if the car doesn't have clear markings and lights on top, put
on the emergency flashers, motion to the "officer" to follow,
and then drive at the speed limit to a safe place.
police officer should realize what you're doing," she said.
you get to that location, if you're still concerned, get out and go into
the safe location. A legitimate police officer will follow.
there's not enough time to get inside the store or gas station, keep
the doors locked and open the window enough to communicate, but
not enough so they can reach inside. Request the officer's photo identification
and examine it carefully.
maintaining your vehicle and keeping the gas tank at least half full
is an important part of being safe. "Once a car breaks down,
you are really vulnerable," Marshack said. "If it's at night
and on isolate roadway, you're in a potentially dangerous situation."
excellent way to handle such driving emergencies is a cell phone,
but if you don't have one and it's not possible to walk someplace
easily, stay in the car, make a "Call Police" sign and put
it up in the back window. "This generally decreases the chance
that someone will bother you. To do so would be risky. They're going
to have to assume people have seen this, people have called and, for
all they know, 10 cops are on the way."
someone does stop, don't assume they are a good Samaritan, she said.
"No matter how nice the person looks; no matter what a nice car
they have. [Serial killer] Ted Bundy...was a charismatic man, but
look what he did," she reminded us.
not leave the car or unlock the doors. Roll the window down no more
than an inch and ask the person to call the police.
who see people broken down or with a "call police" sign
should not stop, but should find a phone and call for help.
have been cases where a true good Samaritan stops and people jump
out of the bushes...and it's a set-up," she warned.
never recommend anyone having a lethal weapon. The element of surprise
is most likely to be there [in an attack], and unless you drive down
the street with a gun on the steering wheel, it's not going to do
you any good," Marshack said. Plus, carrying a weapon in a glove
box or under a seat is illegal in some states.
mace and pepper spray, there are too many variables that can go wrong,"
she said. "One of the biggest [problems] is that people buy it and it stays buried in their purse.
If you decide to do pepper or mace, have it out of your purse."
canisters must be unlocked to fire. "You need to get the first
shot off, and I recommend people practicing what you would do. Not
squirt people, but know what you would do."
you're being attacked and decide to resist, a metal flashlight could
come in handy. "If you're so inclined [to resist], go for the
vulnerable places. The upper lip, the nose, the eyes, knees, groin
and feet. We have many bones in our feet, and it only takes 14 pounds
of pressure to break these bones," she said.
you're going to physically resist, "Make it count. Nothing wimpy.
Whether you're going to punch, grab, twist, or whatever, it's going
to make the person angry. You're probably not going to get another
chance, and after you do it, run like hell the other way."
easy to hide between cars, so Marshack recommends avoiding parked vehicles when possible. He suggests walking in the driving aisles, provided cars aren't using them.
leaving the car, tilt the passenger seat forward, which would make
it hard for someone to hide in the back seat. If the seat has been
pulled back when you return to the car, call the police.
getting in the car, walk around it quickly and look for flat tires
or anything that might leave you stranded on the highway. In secluded
area, such as an underground parking lot, "time is of the essence,"
so just get in and go.