Staying Safe While Driving Alone

Friday, May 23, 2014

Urban driving

People who drive alone have a few more potential problems to worry about than those who drive with family and friends. If you frequently drive alone, especially on rural roads, be aware of the following:

  • Get the car serviced regularly and fix technical problems when they occur. They do not normally go away on their own. If you have to drive a long distance on your own, have the car serviced before you leave.

  • Fill up when the car is halfway to empty, not almost completely empty. Fuel usage depends on too many factors, so it cannot be calculated to the last litre. If you run out of fuel in a rural area, you will have to figure out what to do.  Such as walking to a service station on your own, which could potentially be risky, or calling a roadside assistance company such as CAA. That is also why everyone should have a spare tire, a jack and some basic tools.

  • If you are stopped by police or by another driver who signals that there is something wrong with your car, open the window only slightly and ask for identification before you open the door. Even then, open only the driver's door if your vehicle allows it. The best idea is to signal that you have seen them, and drive to the nearest fuel station.

  • Listen to music or audio books to break the monotony of the road. Sing along. 

  • Keep snacks in the car to keep your energy up. Stop for snacks or coffee every few hours even when you do not feel tired. Park at a well-lit place and take a nap if you feel sleepy.

  • Plan your route beforehand to reduce the chance of getting lost. Rely on both your cell phone maps and a map book. Map books are often more accurate in rural areas. Rely on a GPS system while you are driving, and pull off the road if you need to consult a map.

  • If you break down, call for help and stay in your vehicle until it arrives.

  • Check in with someone periodically through phone calls or text messages. Buy a phone charger for your car so your battery remains charged.

  • Park in well-lit areas at night. Dig out your key before you approach your car, and check whether there are people who lurk around or sit in nearby parked vehicles. Ambushing a loner who carries a key to a vehicle is an effective highjack method.

If you do this often, consider signing up to a roadside assistance program. It is worth the money.