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Tips for Keeping Yourself Safe on the Road

by BJ Killeen

Every hour, somewhere in the world, someone is committing an act of violence against a woman. Everything from assaults to rapes to murders are occurring, and we wonder if some could have been prevented if women were more informed, more aware.

The US Department of Justice report that three out of four women over age 12 will be victims of a crime at least once in their lives. More women than ever are targets now because more women are working outside the home, taking business trips, driving higher profile, more desirable vehicles, and more actively participate in outdoor activities such as four-wheeling, motorcycling, and camping. By virtue of exposure, women are just more susceptible. But a woman stands a much better chance of preventing a criminal attack if she makes herself less appealing to criminals.

More women are aware that personal safety is now a necessity in small towns as well as big cities, and many have taken action to help protect themselves better. Some of the best ideas are usually the easiest to follow. Reading, following, and remembering these tips will help keep you off the statistics list and safely at home with your family.

* Be aware. Pay attention to your surroundings. Is someone hovering close to your vehicle? Did you park in an isolated area of the shopping mall? Did you lock your car before you went into the store? Knowing what's going on around you is the easiest way to avoid trouble.

* Always have your car keys ready. Fumbling around in your purse shows a criminal you're not paying attention and are an easy target.

* Keep your tank full. Make it a habit to fill the gas tank when it registers half. Don't take the chance of running out of gas in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

* Stay in your car. If you have car trouble or have been in an accident and are not hurt, stay put. Clever criminals have been instigating minor fender benders and then overpowering women who get out of their cars to inspect the damage. Ask someone to call for help, or better yet, get a cellphone and keep the battery charged. Try to get a description of the other vehicle or a license plate number.

* Watch your mirrors. Follow-home robberies are a new fad; the thieves follow you home and trap you in your garage. If you think someone is following you, don't drive home; go to a public place or, even better, the nearest police station.

While these tips may make you feel cynical about life, remember, it's better to take a few preventative measures now that will save you a lot of pain and anguish in the future.