Driving alone information

Many people think nothing of driving by themselves. To others the prospect of traveling across town alone causes concern. Unreasoned fear is never a productive emotion. When you must travel by yourself some simple safety tips can reduce your anxiety and enhance your personal safety.

Vehicle Maintenance
Keep your car in good mechanical condition to reduce the potential of a breakdown. You will also be able to move quickly away from a potentially dangerous situation if your vehicle is in good operating condition.

When in Parking Areas
Hold your keys in your hand as you approach your parked car. Don’t wait until you reach your car to grope in your purse or pocket for the keys. Keys in your hand could be used as a weapon should a potential attacker approach you. You also can enter your vehicle more quickly when your keys are ready. Many security experts believe you are most vulnerable to potential attack when you enter or leave your car.

Check your back seat before you enter your car even if the windows were up and the doors locked. This simple precaution takes only a moment and could one day be very important to you. Always park in a centralized, well-lighted place. Use parking attendants or valets if available. Try to park so you will approach the driver’s side of your car when you return. Consider having your car equipped with an alarm that goes off for a few seconds after you enter you car unless you switch it off.

When you are driving
Keep all windows up and doors locked while driving. The chances of a perpetrator attempting to enter your car or reach through an open window to attack you or steal a purse or property on a seat is reduced by this simple precaution.

If you have a membership with a roadside service company keep the membership number with you while driving. To use this service you will need the member number and the telephone number of the service.

Never pick up hitchhikers.

Sound your horn in potentially dangerous situations to attract attention.

If your car becomes disabled assess your situation. Where are you? How far away might potential assistance be? Do you have access to a cellular or pay telephone to call for assistance? If you find yourself far from assistance with no communications switch on your emergency flashers and wait until someone stops. Ask passers by who might stop to call help for you.

If you have a flat tire in a dark or uncomfortable location, drive slowly to the nearest service station or public place. Even if you ruin the tire, you have maintained your personal safety.

Avoid short cuts that takeing you through unfamiliar areas.

Many people are suspicious of being stopped by unmarked police vehicles. Beware of men in civilian clothing who flash what appears to be a police badge. Don’t get out of your car. Instead roll your window down slightly and request a uniformed officer in a marked car respond before you comply with the requests made.

If your car is rammed from behind and the hit seems deliberate, always stay in the car with the doors locked. Wait for the police to arrive.

Most experts do not recommend that you carry weapons in your car or on your person. These items can be turned against you making your situation potentially worse. Use of everyday items such as flashlights, keys, pens and combs for personal protection can be very effective because potential attackers generally are not expecting such actions.

If someone forces you to drive your own car in an abduction, try to attract attention of the police by turning off your lights, speeding, driving as if intoxicated or running into something. Try to remain calm and always look for an opportunity to escape.

Never Forget
If you use common sense and follow these safety suggestions you may reduce your chances of becoming a crime victim. Remember to always use your head to protect your body.

For further information on this or others safety topics please contact the University of Florida Police Department’s Community Services Division at (352) 392-1409.