Women in the Driving Seat 2008
BEATING THE BEHIND-THE-WHEEL BULLIES WITH EASTBOURNE MOTORING CENTRE
Local women learn the art of roadside defence.
A car confidence evening held at our dealship on the 12th June 2008, has made local women more aware of how to protect themselves against the dangers they could face on the road.
The course was a self-help initiative organised by us to help teach local women drivers the basics of mechanics and personal self-protection, so that they are less likely to be left stranded and vulnerable by the roadside. It included roadside get-you-home tips, defensive driving and how to ward off a possible “road rage” attacker.
Following a recent spate of stories about aggressive driving in the media, women (and quite a few men) attending a Women in the Driving Seat car workshop evening at our showroom in Cavendish Bridge, Eastbourne, turned out en masse to learn about driving in today’s stressful conditions.
Karate instructor and self-protection specialist Grant Hicks made the subject of defending yourself from a would-be mugger both entertaining and instructive.
He developed the personal safety theme and demonstrated a quick-fire method of foiling a would-be assailant, which involved disarming him – or her – in three easy moves with the aid of everyday objects such as a torch or a pen.
“Women are perceived as being more vulnerable than men and are seen as an easy target when it comes to road rage,” said Grant. “Also, other people are scared to get involved, even if they see it’s a woman being attacked, so you have to be able to defend yourself.”
The psychology behind dangerous and aggressive driving behaviour and dealing with behind-the-wheel bullies was also explored by ex-Police Chief Inspector Vic Botterill, who gave his audience advice about avoiding the need to use one of Grant’s techniques when faced with road rage.
“Mouthing sorry can stop a minor incident turning into road rage,” he said. “If you know you’re wrong, just say it. If it’s gone beyond that and you’re dealing with a violent man, keep your distance – invading his personal space isn’t going to make the situation better. Speak calmly and never, ever, smile. That will only pour petrol onto what is an emotional bonfire,” emphasised Vic.
The visitors headed for Eastbourne Motoring Centre’s workshops where volunteers were encouraged to change a car’s wheel under the supervision of the Vauxhall dealership’s service technicians and were given practical advice including dealing with roadside emergencies, routine car maintenance and checking oil and fluid levels.
Romana Raffi, an artist living in Eastbourne, welcomed the practical approach: “I didn’t know what I should do if my car broke down by the roadside until tonight, but now I feel I could cope with most situations. I don’t think women can afford any longer to ignore the dangers on our roads,” she confessed. “Eastbourne Motoring Centre’s Women in the Driving Seat evening was well organised and great fun too. I feel that I have learned something useful about my car today. I’ve never had to change a wheel before and I certainly found the awareness and self-protection role-play useful. I’m sure that classes like this would help other women a great deal,” she added.
Christine Urry, 25, an accountant with a finance management company in Lewes, agreed that the practical approach was best. “I had never changed a wheel before I came here and now I know I can do it if my car breaks down when I’m on my own. It’s good that courses like these equip women to take control in these situations and be better able to cope with today’s road conditions,” she said.