By Erin Bishop
My car has a helpful feature that tells me how many miles of gas I have left before I run out. It’s basically a procrastination gauge. Last week I really pushed the limits and got down to one (1) mile of gas left in the tank before I filled up.
I always dread the inconvenience of running out of gas. Having to call someone for help, or push my car to the gas station. But it wasn’t until I posted a picture of my gas gauge on Facebook about almost running out of gas that my perspective changed. Robin Ball, owner of local company Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop and safety expert here in Spokane, saw my post and chimed in with some safety tips I didn’t consider, and you need to know about.
Robin said we should all consider our gas tank empty at HALF. If you run out of gas, you are vulnerable to natural disasters, predators, car problems, and more, on the side of the road.
Just DAYS after Robin shared these safety tips with me, a tragic story broke in our community. A woman ran out of gas at night and she began walking the long distance towards a motel her friend was staying at. A man in a car stopped her and offered her a ride. She accepted.
The woman said the man started driving but wouldn’t tell her where he was going. He grabbed her phone and threw it in the backseat, telling her it was “the last call she would ever make.”
The woman was ordered to remove her clothing and he drove to a secluded area and to a structure. Once inside the structure, he demanded she remove her clothing as he pointed a gun at her. She was sexually assaulted, and fortunately, got away. The suspect remains at large.
Here are 11 safety tips drivers of all ages can implement right now:
- Do not let your gas tank get below half full. If you run out of gas you make yourself vulnerable to natural disasters, predators, car problems, and more.
- Have your keys in hand before you leave your home, school, or other building to go to your car. Walk with purpose and focus to your car. Predators are looking for someone vulnerable.
- Do NOT be talking on your cell phone, texting, or checking social media as you walk to your car. Predators are looking for someone distracted. DO bring your charged phone and a charger in case you need to call for help. This should go without saying, but do not talk on your phone, text, check social media, or take pictures when you are driving.
- Look in the back seat for carjackers before entering your car. Park in well lit and populated areas. Make sure you keep your car locked at all times. Car jackers can break into your car and crouch in the back of your car or hide under items in the back seat.
- Lock your doors the moment you get into your car. Carjackers often approach cars and unlock the doors, forcing the driver out of the car, or, into another seat.
- Fasten your seatbelt and require your passengers to wear their seatbelt.
- Memorize your license plate number, the color, year, make and model of your car. There may come a time where you need to let police know how to identity your car.
- If you think you are being followed, go through a drive thru window and order something inexpensive. People normally won’t follow you to a public place. If you are followed into the drive thru, tell the employee to call the police without making a scene. You can also make four right turns if you think you are being followed. If the car continues to follow you, call 911 and drive to the nearest police station or a well-lit public place. Do NOT go to your place of employment, your home, or any other place you frequent.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Learn landmarks, street names, how to tell directions, and where east and west, and north and south start and end in your city. You may have to give directions to your location.
- Emergency items to keep in your car: flashlight and extra batteries, blanket, emergency flares, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable snacks, jumper cables, rain ponchos, tarp, and small fire extinguisher.
- Don’t stop to help people on the side of the road, but do call for help. Unfortunately, some predators-even women-pretend to be broken down and prey upon good Samaritans. Better to be safe than sorry.
What tips would you add to our list?