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Guide to personal safety for female motorists

Carlton Boyce / 22 March 2016 ( 12 June 2018 )

Stay safe with some simple steps and precautions to protect yourself and your vehicle from crime.

Dark and foggy car park
Try to avoid parking in poorly lit areas

It’s a sad fact that a single woman is more likely to be a victim of crime than a couple driving together or even a single man. That’s not to say that you should live in fear because the overwhelming majority of your journeys will be incident-free, and for the rest a little forward planning can make a huge difference.

Here’s our guide to tipping the odds in your favour.

Keep your doors locked

You should keep your doors locked at all times. 

Most modern cars will lock them automatically when you reach a certain speed, although you might need to dig into the manual for the car to set this. 

However, I’d recommend getting into the habit of locking them as soon as you get into the car; this means you are protected immediately.

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Never open your windows

If you need to ask for directions, or someone approaches your car to speak to you, only crack your windows open an inch or two. This is wide enough for you to be able to hold a conversation but will prevent them from reaching into the car to grab you or your valuables.

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Keep bags out of sight

Speaking of which, please keep your valuables, including handbags, purses, and mobile phones, out of sight.

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Don’t stop to help

The need for constant vigilance also means that you shouldn’t stop to help anyone, no matter how innocent the scenario; it’s not unknown for criminals to use young children, women with prams, or even people with disabilities to flag down motorists before robbing them.

If you see something like this, drive on and call the police when it is safe to do so.

Carry a mobile phone and a personal alarm

Most of us carry a mobile phone now, but you might like to consider carrying a personal alarm as well. They can be bought for as little as £10 and are loud enough to distract an attacker, giving you time to escape.

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If you’re being followed

If you are in your car and think you might be being followed, you should drive to the nearest police station (most sat navs will be able to pinpoint them for you) or well-lit petrol station.

When you get there you should stay in your car and sound the car horn repeatedly until someone comes to help.

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Park in a well-lit place

You should only park in well-lit car parks that have the appropriate anti-crime facilities in place.

Park Mark is a great initiative that aims to take the fear out of parking. You just enter the postcode of the place you want to park and it lists the nearest car parks that have been judged by their police-trained assessors as being safe and secure.

Reverse into the space

When you get to the car park you should reverse into the parking space. By doing so you are ensuring you will be able to leave quickly if there is a problem.

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Keep your car keys in your hand

You should carry your car keys in your hand as you approach your car. This makes it much easier to open your car quickly if you feel that you are in danger.

Check the backseat

When you return to your car you should check the rear seat and footwell to make sure that no one is hiding there. 

This is made much easier if you carry a small torch with you in your pocket or handbag.

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How to stop for the police

If you see flashing blue lights in your mirror your instinct is to pull over to find out what you’ve done wrong. However, unless the police car is fully marked it might be a criminal using a set of illegal blue lights to lull you into a false sense of security.

The police do use unmarked patrol cars but they will generally still be in full uniform. If they aren’t, or you are in any doubt as to whether or not they are genuine, tell them through a partially opened window that you will drive to the nearest police station and speak to them there.

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Consider a dash cam

You could consider installing a dash cam in your car. They aren’t expensive and most criminals will be deterred once they know they are being filmed.

Finally, please don’t worry unnecessarily. By taking these simple steps you will have reduced your chances of becoming a victim of crime to almost zero. 

If you do want to find out more then the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has a wealth of advice on its website, as well as an online shop selling security essentials.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.