5 safety tips for women on the road

For women travelling alone, the country’s roads can be especially treacherous…

It’s Women’s Month so we’re paying extra special attention to helping our readers stay safe on the road. South Africa’s roads can be a dangerous place to be, with high accident rates and a worrying prevalence of hijackings. This means that we can’t go a minute without being on guard.

“For women travelling alone, the country’s roads can be especially treacherous, as they are often seen as ‘soft targets’ by hijackers looking for a quick win,” says Nthabiseng Moloi, Head of Marketing and Brand at MiWay insurance. ”

Also read: Why more women should drive bakkies 

So as we celebrate Women’s Month, here a few key tips from MiWay to keep you safer and more secure as you head out on the open road:

1.     Stay alert

Hijackings tend to be crimes of opportunity, so if you want to avoid becoming a statistic, be vigilant. Make sure to scan your car and its surrounds before entering and after parking, keeping your eye out for anyone or anything suspicious. Remember that not all threats are obvious, so stay cognisant of anything that looks unusual before entering or exiting your vehicle.

2.     Easy access to keys

It is also important to keep your keys easily accessible, but not visible, so you can quickly reach for them without presenting a clear distraction to lurking criminals. 

3.     Stay calm

It is important to be prepared in the event of a hijacking. The best plan of action is to remain calm, keep your temper under control and avoid any threatening language – complicity is your biggest weapon in this type of situation. Should you obey orders and surrender any requested valuables, you will stand a far greater chance of escaping the situation alive. Remember that while you may have seen people talking their way out of these scenarios on TV, the same theory does not always apply in real life. So avoid eye contact, any sudden movements or anything that might be perceived as resistance for a better shot at survival. 

4.     Put the right foot forward

A less obvious obstacle for women comes in the form of footwear, with high heels and platform shoes not only making driving more difficult, but also resulting in injuries to the feet and ankles. While certain situations undoubtedly demand more decorative shoe formats, it is important to keep a spare pair in the car. Opt for a shoe with a moderate sole, with enough grip to avoid slipping and sufficient feel to maintain optimal pressure. Remember that while heels might look great, they can get caught under pedals and ultimately undermine your ability to control the clutch or brake – and let’s face it, there is no occasion worth risking your life for. 

5.     Dial down distractions

Between work, ferrying kids around and tending to the various other administrative tasks today’s women face on a daily basis, it can be tempting to take your eyes off the road for a second or two. It is those seemingly harmless interludes that can be the difference between life and death, so it is important to make sure you have all the necessities tended to before setting off. Set your phone to ‘Drive mode’, if it has this function, or silence it completely and insert any necessary GPS co-ordinates before you leave so as to reduce the necessity for split focus. Remove all the necessities you might need from your handbag in advance, rather than fumbling for them on the move – and then store it out of sight while driving. By being prepared, you will be far better equipped to reach your destination safely.