My advice to female drivers…which may help eliminate risk of assaults

Last week a 26-year-old woman became the third victim of thugs who are preying on vulnerable drivers by impersonating members of an Garda Síochána. Now, I don’t wish to panic anyone, especially female drivers, so I will add that these attacks occurred in County Wexford and not in Roscommon.

  However, this is very serious and very worrying, because these thugs could strike anywhere, and for those of us living in rural areas where Garda stations are practically deserted, due to the government’s massive cull, I would urge all drivers to be extremely vigilant, especially when out driving alone.

  Now according to reports in last week’s Irish Independent, the advice coming from ‘a source,’ presumably someone in the Garda press office, is this: “As a matter of procedure Gardaí, whether uniformed or plain clothed, must carry garda identification with them, and members of the public can ask for this to be produced if they are concerned. However, these incidents are very rare.”

  Now first of all, I’d say three incidents occurring one after the other in the same county can hardly be described as ‘very rare,’ now can they? Also, if the assailant manages to get close enough for you, his victim, to ask to see identification, then he’s (or they, as in the above cases), are close enough to assault and rob you so that piece of advice is, well, bloody useless I’d say!

  I mean, when you’re a woman who is out and about, driving alone, minding her own business, and, given these worrying incidents, it’s now clear to me that crashing or breaking down are not the only risks we face; nay, carjacking, assault and battery, robbery, rape and falling prey to bogus police impersonators have now become the crime du jour it seems. While it’s very important not to panic and not to restrict our movements, ladies, because we can become fearful and over-react, I’d like to say that while it’s important to keep the advice of the Indo’s ‘source’ in mind, I’d also like to share some of my own personal safety tips…they may prove useful, they may not; you decide.

  Always keep your wits about you and be on the lookout for a possible confrontation. Given these recent and serious attacks, I have to confess I’m worried; so if I feel I’m driving safely, am under the speed limit and a ‘garda’ car suddenly appears and flashes and signals for me to pull over, and I suspect the occupants are not genuine, well I think I’ll keep driving at a steady pace, acknowledge that I’m aware of the request to stop by putting on my hazard lights, and head for the nearest police station or to a well-lit area, or a petrol station where there’s people, or even into someone’s drive-in where it’s clear there are occupants in the house. I’ll dial 999 to see if there’s a car patrolling the area and, if needs be, apologise if the nice Gardaí are in fact the genuine article and take my chances with a fine. I do hope they understand.

   When parking, I always find a well-lit area and reverse into it; that way it’s easy to make a quick getaway should the need arise. I never, ever, park beside a large vehicle that doesn’t have glass side panels; it’s too easy for possible attackers to hide inside undetected.

  I always have my keys ready in my hand because I don’t intend to give a possible attacker time to grab me as I disappear into my large handbag looking for them; and, once inside my car, all doors are locked immediately.

  I would never stop for a lone person, especially a man, who flags me down on the side of a rural road. I will however, drive on up the road, pull over and immediately call the Gardaí and advise them of his location.

  As someone who has absolutely no sense of direction, and who simply cannot read a map, I make sure my route is planned at all times; in fact, hubby draws me what I call ‘an idiot guide map’ – this lowers my risk of getting lost…although it still happens!

  When stopping for petrol/food/coffee, I never advertise my vulnerability by telling anyone I’m travelling alone by using words like ‘myself and the hubby’ or ‘we’ if a stranger engages me in details regarding my journey.

  Look ladies, I would imagine that 99 per cent of the time, driving alone is perfectly safe; however, as I’ve said, given recent reports highlighted in the meeja, it’s clear there are exceptions and potential risks; so my final piece of advice is to chat with your friendly local Garda, he/she will be able to provide lots of useful, practical tips that will help to illuminate you and eliminate possible assaults of the kind that occurred in Wexford.

  Safe driving.

Beware of the ‘thought police’

Last week I heard what I would call one of the most outrageous cases of political correctness I’ve ever experienced. You see readers, it appears the  ‘thought police’ have now highjacked, re-shaped and taken the fun out of one of our country’s most loved and most cherished festive traditions; Easter!

  Yep, it’s true, some anal retentive know-it-alls at chocolate giants Nestle and Cadbury have apparently declared war on the Easter Bunny by divorcing him from the offending word that is ‘Easter’ removing it from our eggs. However, according to Nestle, editing out that inflammatory word ‘Easter’ was probably just an accident, an oversight because there was “no deliberate decision to drop the word Easter from our products.”

  Oh right, so it just happened to drop right off the packaging then? Kind of, gone AWOL like? Meanwhile, back at Cadbury’s HQ, the explanation went like this…“The word Easter is still there in small print on the back of the packaging to reassure people that they are actually eating a chocolate Easter egg.” Oh cheers Einstein, and now while it’s true that brains aren’t everything, in this spokesperson’s case I suspect they’re actually nothing, because you see, the fact is, if something is shaped like an egg and made out of chocolate, and I’m eating it at Easter, then that’ll kinda be my hint, won’t it…but thanks for your insightful explanation. 

  Seriously folks, what will the politically correct ‘thought police’ edit out of our lives next…Paddy’s Day?

Comhghairdeas Marc!

 

It takes an incredible amount of guts to get up in front of a crowd and sing live; so, this week I’d like to say a massive well done to Boyle native Marc Egan on his performance on RTE’s The Voice of Ireland last weekend. What an entertainer and what a genuinely nice guy.

 

  Marc is certainly a positive representative of his family, town and county and, despite the fact he’s said his life has been a rollercoaster in the past, surviving a car crash and a job loss, I’d say that ride is not about to stop any time soon, but from now on, it will be all ups and no downs as I predict lots of interest in this young man’s enormous talent. Comhghairdeas Marc!