How To Stay Safe As A Woman Driver On A Long Road Trip

As a solo woman traveller, you might face certain challenges while on the road for long trips. Follow these tips as your safety companion to ensure a smooth experience
For representational purposes
For representational purposesShutterstock

As a woman, it's natural to feel a bit more vulnerable and cautious when hitting the road solo. While it's true that there's no such thing as "complete safety," there are ways to minimize the risks and increase your peace of mind. One such way is opting for women-only vehicles, especially when travelling outside city limits. It's surprising to see that such vehicles are still a rarity despite the growing number of solo female travellers in the world.

Even when stopping at toll booths or highway restaurants, women often attract undue attention, although not necessarily in a bad or negative way. Some people may look at you with surprise, while others may exhibit borderline amazement or awe. Regardless, it's always better to be extra vigilant when you're travelling alone. If you're a woman planning to travel solo, there are a few tips you can follow to maximize your safety on the road and avoid creeps and accidents.

Before You Hit The Road

Ensure That Your Vehicle Is Fit For The Road

Car being repaired
Car being repairedShutterstock

It's important to keep your car in good condition to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. One way to do this is by taking your car out for a drive at least once a week for an hour-long trip, covering at least 80 km. This helps keep your battery in good condition by increasing its capacity with constant cruising speeds. Another important aspect to maintain in your car is the tires.

To avoid flat tires and blowouts, it's best to check the tread of your tires frequently and replace them with a new set as soon as the old ones wear out. Finally, garage visits are an excellent opportunity to get an expert's opinion on your car's systems. It's recommended to have a reputable mechanic inspect your vehicle at every oil change to ensure that everything is in proper working condition.

Dress For The Road

Personal liberty is very important, but not at the cost of your safety. While it may seem patronising and restricting to dress according to the place you're at, it is best to avoid attention from crooks and creeps to reach your destination safely. While it may not be completely efficient, like every other tip, it is just a measure women often take to ensure safety.

Save Highway Emergency Numbers

National Highways Helpline number sign board
National Highways Helpline number sign boardShutterstock

Most Indian national highways have emergency contact numbers prominently placed along the route. Make a note of these numbers and keep them close to hand. Preferably, keep these numbers on fast dial in your phone.

The national emergency numbers for India are:

Police: 100

Ambulance: 102

Emergency highway number: 1033

Keep Your Valuables Out Of Sight

You should wear minimal jewellery, preferably artificial (best not to wear it at all) and avoid opening a purse filled with cash in front of strangers. It's a good idea to divide your cash and keep most of it in your overnight bag. It's also recommended to not carry important documents like passports, PAN cards, Aadhar cards (unless it's your only identity proof). Instead, it's preferable to carry your driver's license, which can double up as your identity proof while checking into hotels. If you need to leave valuables such as cameras, laptops, etc. in the car, it's best to keep them out of sight, preferably in the boot of your car.

Keep Self-Defense Tools At Arm's Reach

Pepper spray in jeans pocket
Pepper spray in jeans pocketShutterstock

Carrying a pocket knife can provide a sense of security, but it's important to use it responsibly and only when necessary. It's also important to make sure that carrying a pocket knife is legal in the area you're travelling to. While pepper spray can also be a good self-defense tool, it's important to be aware of the potential hazards of leaving it in the dashboard of your car during summer. Other accessible defence equipment include a cat ear keychain, tactical pen, and personal safety alarm. Hopefully, you won't ever have to use them.

While On The Road

Use GPS Technology To Your Advantage

GPS navigation system In car
GPS navigation system In carShutterstock

Thanks to advancements in technology, getting lost on unfamiliar roads is not as common as it used to be. With smartphones and their pre-installed mapping software, finding your way around has become easier than ever before. You can easily navigate your way back home without worrying about getting lost. In addition to mapping software, there are also tracking apps available that can help ensure your safety while driving at night.

There is no dearth of decent highway restaurants on the national highways. On expressways, usually there is only one convenience plaza (usually in the centre of the expressway) which includes restaurants, washrooms and petrol pumps. The options on State highways/village roads are still limited though, for restaurants as well as washrooms. If you are aware of your route well in advance, it is advisable to take a pit stop before turning off the national highway.

Do Not Stop For Meddlers Or Hitchhikers

Man hitchhiking on a mountain road
Man hitchhiking on a mountain roadShutterstock

It's common to feel frustrated or angry when another driver does something unsafe or disrespectful on the road. However, it's important to control your emotions and take the high road. It's best to focus on driving safely and avoiding any confrontations while on the road. Similarly, it's important to not compromise safety when it comes to picking up hitchhikers. While you may feel compelled to stop for stranded women, it's not always safe to do so. It's important to assess the situation and prioritise your safety above all else.

Be Prepared For A Self-Defense Situation 

If you find yourself stranded on the road, your car's door locks can be your best line of defense against potential threats. However, if you absolutely need to get out of your car, it's important to assess the situation carefully. In addition to your car's locks, your smartphone can be a valuable resource in such situations. If you need to call for help, be sure to ask for clear vehicle and driver identification so you can verify their legitimacy. When the tow truck arrives, it's best to stay in your car and call the police if something doesn't add up or if you feel unsafe.

Parking safety

Parking in a well-lit area is also important, as it eliminates some of the threats posed by criminals and thieves who often hide in the dark. By parking in a well-lit area, you can increase your visibility and reduce the risk of being targeted. It's also a good idea to park your car as close to your final destination as possible. While it may take a little longer to find the right parking spot, parking near the entrance ensures that more people are available to assist you if necessary.

Keep An Eye On The Fuel Gauge

fuel gauge in a car
fuel gauge in a carShutterstock

When traveling in hilly areas or remote locations, it's important to ensure that your vehicle has enough fuel to get you to your destination. The frequency of petrol pumps in these areas is often low, and at times the pumps may only have petrol or diesel or CNG. To avoid running out of fuel, it's best to start actively scouting for fuel once you reach the quarter mark on your fuel tank.

 Always Trust Your Instinct

If you find yourself at a hotel or highway stop that makes you feel uncomfortable, it's important to trust your guts and leave. Even if it means letting go of some of your deposit, your safety should always be a priority. Similarly, if you feel that someone is tailgating you, it's best to take a turn or stop your car to throw them off. If this doesn't work, you can drive into the next police station or dial the emergency number for assistance.

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