July - Alone Behind the Wheel
Alone Behind the Wheel
Two violent crimes are committed in the U.S. every minute of every day. Drivers traveling alone can be particularly vulnerable. There are a number of things you can do, however, to keep yourself safer, both inside the car and out. Following are some items to consider to keep you safer and reduce your vulnerability:
- Back into a space, if possible. It makes your chances of getting trapped by someone a little harder.
- Try to park close to a building entrance, this will reduce the time that you're alone outside your call.
- If you're working late, move your vehicle to a well-lighted area, close to an exit. This precaution may reduce your risk at night.
- Try to choose a spot well-lighted and away from shrubs and bushes so you can see under and around your car as you approach it.
- Again, park in a well-lighted spot, ground level if possible and close to the parking attendant station. If this isn't possible, park close to the elevator or stairwell near the building entrance.
- Spend as little time as possible going to and from your car.
- Try to stay where you can be seen by others, there is safety in numbers.
- If you have doubts or fears, call the building's security service for someone to accompany you to your vehicle.
- Locking your car is sometimes not enough. In a two-door car, before locking the doors, turn the seat up on the driver's side. In a 4-door car, move the driver's side seat forward and lock it up. When returning, if the seats are in their original position, go back to the building and notify the security police. Someone could be hiding in the floorboard. Be sure to look under the vehicle as well.
The FBI estimates that approximately 25,000 carjackings occur in the U.S. each year. There are some defensive techniques that might keep you from becoming a victim.
- Always keep your doors locked. Scan ahead and behind as you drive. Look for individuals loitering at intersections.
- When approaching an intersection and the situation looks suspicious, try to time your speed to avoid having to stop at the light. Be sure there is no cross traffic that could cause a collision.
- Try to keep escape routes open. Stop far enough behind the car in front of you so that you can see its tires touching the pavement. This way, if you have to pull out in a hurry, you won't have to back up.
- Stay in the left lane when approaching a intersection. You'll be farther away from anyone approaching you from the "curb" and there will be less chance of getting "boxed in" by a car on your left or a car parked at the curb.
Other Safety Tips
- Plan your trip before you leave. Mark your route before you leave and give a copy to a family member with your estimated arrival time and phone numbers where you'll be staying.
- Don't take maps into rest stops or restaurants. Don't call attention to your travel plans.
- Check out your car before you leave. Some breakdowns can be avoided especially those involving, gas, oil, cooling or electrical problems.
- Use valet parking at hotels and restaurants.
- Don't try to fix a flat, if you think you're in an unsafe area. Drive slowly to a service station or a police station.
- Even with a cell phone, carry extra change.
- While driving, keep the doors locked and the windows rolled up.
Excerpts - Shell Oil Co. -Driving Tips
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.