Road travel forms a great part of our lives, whether as a driver, or a passenger. As a security professional, I have learnt that how I approach the roads and streets anywhere in the world, there are some simple steps that have kept me safe.
Try them…see for yourself…and get back to me. I am still learning! And I would love to hear your stories.
Ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy at all times, no matter how old it is. I drive a 2005 Mitsubishi Montero 3 litre…and I keep it in good condition. It has never let me down.
Keep the tank full at all times.
Pre-check your vehicle before opening the door. Have the locks been tampered with in any way?
Ensure that spare tyre and accessories are in good working order.
Install a small fire extinguisher – you may never need it but wouldn’t you feel good if someone else did and you were able to help?
Carry a working flashlight in the glove compartment.
Carry a local road map…no matter where you are in the world.
When getting into your vehicle, be observant.
At all times practice LOCKING your door once you get in your vehicle…even if you have automatic door locks that activate when you start the engine. You may get in one day, your mobile rings and you sit there talking away. Your car doors are still open! In Chelsea, London, a lady got into her car and sat for seconds…a man jumped into the back seat behind her, held a knife to her throat and told her to drive…she had quick reactions and sped off down the road, jamming on the brakes…the man, and his hand, moved forward and she was able to jump out of her car. This was broad daylight in a very upscale part of the world.
Be alert to motorcycles that stop next to your vehicle, particularly if there are two riders.
Always park with the front of the vehicle facing outwards. Why? For any needed quick getaway you do not want to be reversing and getting caught up with other cars doing the same.
Communicate travel plans and arrangements to close friends or associates.
Avoid routine. Learn different routes to and from places you regularly travel to or visit. Do not, DO NOT, use the same route every day…vary it to throw anyone who may be watching you off track.
Keep car doors locked and windows closed except for essential ventilation. If traveling alone, ensure the passenger windows are up and all doors locked.
Do not offer a lift, or open doors or windows, to anyone. Guys, even if she looks fabulous…ladies, even if he looks gorgeous!
Do not get too close to the vehicle in front of you. When you stop in traffic give yourself enough space to enable you to maneuver without having to wait for the vehicle in front of you to do so. A simple way to judge this…make sure you can see the back tyres of the car in front of you touching the tarmac.
Do not stop to provide assistance if you see an accident. Call the Police Authorities.
If you live somewhere where there are plenty street hustlers, when you stop at traffic lights, do not open purses or wallets in front of them, whether windscreen cleaners or newspaper sellers. If you buy a newspaper this way, or have your windscreen cleaned, keep small change in the ashtray or dashboard.
Keep to busy main roads and thoroughfares, especially at night. Lonely roads…avoid. Think how you would feel if you had a flat tyre or broke down on a quiet dark road.
Put all bags, packages, briefcases etc. on the floor of the vehicle, preferably under the seat and out of sight.If you are on the road late at night or early in the morning (before daylight) take the following precautions at traffic lights: If the lights are red, stop and proceed forward cautiously, keeping the car in a low gear and in readiness to move off if it becomes necessary. If there are no vehicles approaching, keep driving. If there is a Police car present, abide by regular rules of the road. Watch for persons hanging around or loitering. I say this because years ago a friend of mine stopped at traffic lights in an inner city community while coming from a party at 3:00am. A gunman with a rifle came out of the shadows…my friend drove away fast but not fast enough…a bullet went through his windpipe and 2 minutes later up the road he collapsed. He lived to tell the tale.
Stay out of inner city communities, especially at night.
When approaching your vehicle always have the door and ignition key in your hand. Apart from having quick access to your car, you also have a sharp weapon available. And remember to lock your car doors once you are inside.
Always make sure you have one hand free when approaching your car…hands full of bags are not going to help you!
If your vehicle is hit at night do not stop and get out of your vehicle. Drive to the nearest Police Station and make a report. If it is possible for you to identify the vehicle that ran into you do so, but not if you compromise your situation.
If on returning home there are any strangers at or nearby your gate, do not stop to investigate. Call the Police immediately.
Take notice of vehicles driving behind you. If the same vehicle has been with you for a while do not stop at your house. It is better to drive around the block to ensure your safety.
Keep a list of all emergency telephone numbers in the glove compartment of your vehicle.
Should your car tyre be punctured late at night, rim your vehicle to a secure area rather than stop and attempt to change the tyre. A secure area could be a nearby hotel, petrol station, Police Station, etc.
Mobile phones should be carried at all times. Ensure batteries are fully charged. Do not leave mobile phones in parked vehicles. Learn to carry your mobile phone with you.
Always carry a small amount of cash that can be handed over if confronted by robbers.Do not overtly display valuable personal property such as jewellery, cameras, etc.
Avoid confrontation if at all possible. There is a saying…a coward keeps sound bones…better to flee to fight another day than end up as a statistic on the side of the road.