I often talk out loud to myself. I find that I get the answers that best suit my desires. But seriously, I’m an old man. I really do it so that I can remember what’s going on.
I particularly advise women to talk out loud to themselves, especially when driving. Women driving alone are at a far greater risk of falling prey to criminals and thugs so make yourself aware of your surroundings constantly. Get in the habit of reading exit, street signs and landmarks out loud to yourself so that you can remember the last sign if you need to describe where you are. Before heading out on any trip, make sure someone knows your intended route and time expectations. Also, let them know when you arrive.
Make sure your cell phone is always charged before heading out alone and that your Bluetooth is working. A dashboard charger is also a good idea. If you think you are being followed, drive at a normal speed and make a couple of unscheduled turns. If you still think you have a tail, get onto 911 and explain who and where you are, your assumed situation and follow their directions. If you can, drive toward a police station or highly populated location like a service center. Never, ever, try to outrun someone in your car. Drive (O.J. Simpson, White Ford Bronco style) at a normal speed.
Some folks have successfully used blow-up dolls on long trips, reclining in the passenger seat with a baseball hat on, they look like a sleeping companion. When you come to a stop, keep your doors locked and keep the vehicle in gear. Be aware that some car doors unlock automatically when the vehicle is placed in “park”. Observe your surroundings very carefully before unlocking the doors.
The same when you approach your vehicle. Look under, around and beside your vehicle. Clench your keys between your knuckles to use as a weapon should you need it. Know what your door lock remote does. Often one click opens just the driver’s door whereas two clicks unlock all doors. Remember that vans or large vehicles parked beside you can provide a hiding place for abductors.
It is always a good idea to carry a survival kit with you. Dry snacks, bottled water, canned heat with a lighter/match or some form of cold protection. Should you break down, phone your road service and do not accept help from anyone until you’re sure they’re legitimate. Crack your window open slightly to speak to anyone. Stay alert and stay in your car. Do not to get involved in your phone to the point of becoming distracted and keep your radio volume down so that you can hear things going on outside.
Lastly, do not assume that an unmarked vehicle with flashing lights is a police car. If you are not sure and a suspicious looking “police vehicle” tries to pull you over, keep on driving until you can pull over in a well-lit area such as a fuel station. Notify 911. Park as close as you can to the entrance of the kiosk or at a fuel pump and blow the horn. This will attract – and annoy – the attendants, but you will be safe. Should the vehicle following you be genuine police, he/she will approach you. With both your hands at the top of the steering wheel so they can be seen, open the window just enough to speak to them and ask to see their police IDs. Don’t just glance, actually study their ID card – not a badge.
If you are traveling alone then you might be staying alone as well. Certain hotel rules apply. Try to pick an upper-grade motel or hotel.
Don’t advertise your room number. Keep your voice down during any discussion that might identify you are alone. Get a room far from the street or facing an inside court if possible. In addition to ensuring that the door lock works, make sure the chain is on. Some people carry a rubber doorstop in their purse to shove under the door’s edge. Remember to kick it out if there is a fire.
Fire is always a concern. Firefighters recommend their families never go above the 3rd floor in any hotel so that ladders will reach. Know where the fire exits are and plan your escape in multiple directions from your room first.
When you arrive, place your bag so that it props open the door. Then check out the entire room; the closets, bathroom, behind curtains and open doors. If you need to run, the exit door is already open.
Sleep with your windows closed and locked unless you are on an upper floor with no balcony. Never open your door unless you know the person behind it. Sleep with a flashlight. One of these tiny pocket lights stuck in your shoe so that it’s the first thing you touch might be good. Always carry a “Fox 40” or similar whistle. When you leave the room, place a note on the dresser to say where you expect to be and pull the drapes so that an empty room is not identifiable from outside.
Keep your people safe. The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME
Sources: OPP – London CDT Conference; Suzan Chala, “Driving in Heels”
About the Author
Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions
Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.
As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.
Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council.