BY LISA S.T. DOSS
The mind and body follow a rhythm of actions after closing a vehicle door to promote safety and comfort. Surrounded by 4,000 pounds of steel and the technological advancements of features, the driver must rely on smart decisions and a plan to avoid vulnerability and potential danger! Whether you are a new driver or have spent decades behind the wheel, consider how you will respond to the following five scenarios:
#1: Who Knows Where You Are?
The gas light is flashing, and a service area is nowhere in sight. The thought of worry whether there is a cell signal may lead to panic. The critical word in the situation is “help.” Did you tell anyone where you were going or when to expect your arrival? It’s a good habit to keep roommates, parents or spouses well-informed of your travels. A text is fine. Check-ins are better. Make it fun! Send silly pictures or one-liners from a favorite movie to keep you connected!
Tip: Make yourself a promise to fill the gas tank when it reaches a quarter tank!
Tip: If traveling to an unknown destination, take time to research the location first, and if possible, take a practice drive.
Tip: Keep a portable power charger on hand. Very inexpensive with the option of solar power or electricity.
#2: Stranded Young Driver
Imagine it’s raining, and you come across a young person holding an umbrella standing next to her parked car, alongside the road. Do you stop? Do you let her into your vehicle? Despite her age, you do not know whether she has the intent to use a gun or knife. The best scenario to help her while keeping yourself safe is to call 911, and report the situation.
#3: Returning to Your Vehicle at Night
Safety occurs in numbers; however, there are times when every driver must be out at night. With a cart full of groceries or hands carrying bags, a driver’s risk escalates. Buy enough to hold the contents comfortably in one hand. With ample light shining from overhead, always have car keys available. Before entering the vehicle, take a look at the trunk, backseat and passenger seat. If you are uncomfortable, return to the store and request a security guard or store employee escort you.
Tip: Rather than place yourself in an awkward or dangerous situation, take care of errands during the day.
Tip: Consider carrying a bottle of pepper spray on your keychain for self-defense purposes. It is a weapon that can restrict the airways and burn the eyes for a duration lasting 20 to 90 minutes. Please, don’t just believe what it does; instead, watch instructive videos and practice using it. Similar to all chemicals, it can weaken; therefore, be aware of the expiration date.
Tip: Conceal valuables under the seat, in the glove box or trunk.
#4: Getting Your Attention
Take notice of your surroundings, such as landmarks and road names. Be wary if someone asks you to pull over. Your safety is critical; therefore, consider driving to a public location.
Tip: Never leave your vehicle to confront a stranger or roll down the window.
Tip: Do not assume an unmarked vehicle with flashing lights is a police car. Put on your flashing lights and immediately call 911. A dispatcher will want to know your location and provide help.
#5: Flat Tire
Most vehicles today have a tire indicator to let drivers know when pressure is low. Other signs include a difficulty in accelerating and changing lanes or a dragging feeling on one side. Drivers should immediately pull off the road. Without the knowledge of changing tires, the solution is applying the contents of a can of Fix-a-Flat. Within minutes, drivers then have a maximum of 100 miles to seek a full repair!
Worst case scenarios do happen. Rather than waiting for the unexpected, devise a plan that leads to empowerment!