The Crime Prevention Website


WARNING: Please note that the information on this page is given to minimise any threats to your personal security. For additional help certain parts of the United Kingdom’s Highway Code have been referenced below. Please be aware that in all circumstances the Highway Code takes precedence over the advice that follows:

For advice about Vehicle Security please follow this link

The following lists of tips for safer driving have been heavily influenced by Christine Morrison, a former police sergeant and now trainer in all things crime prevention and safety at CMA Training.

Christine tells us that driving is normally a very safe activity. However, violent and aggressive incidents can happen, so it is necessary to avoid any unnecessary risks when out driving and you can do this by being prepared.

One way of being prepared is to be self-reliant so that you don’t appear vulnerable and attract the attention of strangers offering to help; something that you may prefer not to do. In some circumstances you may have to ask for assistance, but you can minimise these occasions by copying what I do, which is to make sure you always have a fully stocked car survival kit in the boot (or trunk)! Not all of this will be stored in the car as some things, such as your mobile phone, will be with you before and after your journey and some of the items are seasonal.

For ease I keep a lot of this stuff in a suitably dimensioned plastic storage box so it’s easy to access and take in and out should I need to make room in the boot for the occasional extra large load. When this happens it goes on the back seat for the duration of the journey instead. I have assumed that the basic car tools for changing a wheel or the emergency re-inflating kit are already in the vehicle, but you should check them out now to make sure you know where they are and everything is accounted for.

Calvin’s Car Survival Kit

This is my choice, but you may have other ideas!

  • Large road map of the UK or whatever country you might be driving around. This comes in very handy when you’ve got a very poor signal preventing you from using Google maps or other app., the onboard satellite system fails, the phone charger stops working etc
  • A number of cheap plastic hooded ponchos – one per passenger. These are handy if you breakdown and have to stand or sit away from the vehicle on a hard shoulder. This is especially useful if you break down on a motorway
  • A number of emergency blankets – one per passenger. These are useful if you break down in the winter or get stuck in halted traffic during the winter snow
  • A 5L container for petrol
  • A 1L container for water
  • An empty 1L bottle for other emergency uses
  • A torch and spare batteries
  • Emergency triangle
  • Day-glow and reflective vest
  • Tool to remove locking wheel nuts and caps
  • Disposable gloves
  • Disposable shoe covers
  • Hand wipes
  • A few small tools, such as a screwdriver, scissors, pliers for those little repair jobs
  • A set of jump leads
  • A small bottle of engine oil for topping up
  • Some rags
  • A £20 note
  • £10 in mixed change
  • First aid kit
  • Shovel if there is a danger of snow - seasonal
  • Can of defrost spray - seasonal
  • Ice scraper – seasonal
  • Warm gloves - seasonal

In addition you should have with you

  • Mobile phone
  • Phone charger lead
  • Phone charger battery – fully charged
  • Cash and bank cards
  • Pen torch in the car’s glove compartment or carried in handbag
  • Sat Nav if you use one
  • Vehicle’s instruction manual

Before you drive your vehicle  

  • Keep your vehicle in good working condition
  • Check you have sufficient fuel for your journey
  • Check your lights are working
  • Check oil level
  • Check coolant and washer bottle levels
  • Check tyre condition and treads
  • Have the vehicle regularly serviced
  • If the car battery is playing up get it looked at
  • In winter you should clean the light covers, windows and side mirrors regularly
  • Ensure you have up-to-date membership of a recovery service and keep their telephone number on your phone or in the car
  • Have a fully charged phone with you in case of emergency
  • Plan your journey carefully. Know what route you are taking and on a long journey let other people know where you are going and when you hope to arrive
  • Always lock anything valuable in the boot or remove it from the car completely
  • If your vehicle does not have an alarm then have one fitted.  Always insist on a Thatcham approved alarm system (See Motor vehicles, Vehicle alarms and immobilisers )

When driving

  • Never leave your keys in the ignition when out of the car for any reason
  • Keep the doors locked and the windows closed in built-up areas or in stop-start traffic
  • Take extra care if you are driving a convertible vehicle with the roof down.  Consider raising the windows when stationary or in slow traffic and keep the doors and boot locked
  • Keep handbags, leather jackets etc out of sight
  • Have the directions with you so you do not need to stop
  • Do not over-rely on a sat-nav or phone app. These devices should be used to confirm what you have already prepared
  • Lock your car even if you leave it for a minute, such as at a garage forecourt
  • Avoid picking up strangers or people you hardly know
  • Road rage incidents are rare, and by not responding to aggression from other drivers, such as shouting back and or using hand gestures, they can often be avoided
  • If the driver of another vehicle forces you to stop and then gets out, stay in your vehicle with the doors locked and the engine running, and if you need to and it is safe for other road users to do so, reverse to get away
  • If you think someone is following you, keep driving until you come to a busy location, such as a garage or motorway services. If you are really worried, drive straight to the nearest police station
  • If you feel threatened, try to make a note of the type of car and the registration number
  • If a car with a police light flashes for you to pull over or stop, do not stop unless you are 100% certain it is the police. Drive steadily to the nearest public place (for example a petrol station, a police station or somewhere there are a lot of people) and then stop. Signal to acknowledge the request to stop and indicate the action you are taking. Once stopped, keep the doors locked until you are happy it is the police. Have your mobile at hand just in case. You can ask to see a warrant card, which should carry a name and photograph, through the closed window
  • Although you will be breaking the law if you are using a mobile phone in your hand whilst driving a motor vehicle, you and your passengers who might be using them should be particularly aware of snatch theft and robbery when in crawling traffic or stopped at traffic lights
  • Registration documents and test certificates should be kept at home
  • Keep the inside of the vehicle tidy as an untidy vehicle containing opened mail, plastic bags etc may attract the curiosity of a thief
  • Consider fitting a 'dashboard' camera 

Parking your vehicle

  • In the United Kingdom look for car parks that have achieved the ParkMark award. You can plan ahead using the ParkMark website
  • Avoid using poorly lit car parks. Whenever possible choose a staffed car park and park as close as you can to the attendant
  • When parking in a car park, consider where the entrances and exits are. Try to avoid having to walk across a lonely car park to get to your car. Park away from pillars and barriers, and close to lights and CCTV cameras if possible
  • When driving to meetings, try to plan where you will park before you go
  • Park in a way so that you are ready to leave. This may require you to reverse into a parking space
  • When you park in the daylight, think what it will be like at night
  • At night park in a well lit place, preferably one that is well overlooked
  • When returning to your vehicle be aware of your surroundings, have your keys ready and before entering, quickly check that no-one is inside. A key ring torch can be a useful aid for this purpose
  • If someone approaches the car when you are parked or stopped at the lights, only roll down the window enough to hear what they want, but not enough for them to get their arm through
  • When parking at home use the garage if you have one or park on a well lit driveway or hard standing, rather than in the street.  If you live in a block of flats you will have to make use of the parking facilities provided and if these are not secure enough you and your neighbours will need to approach the landlord or managing agent to ask for improvements
  • If there is nothing in the glove compartment or ashtray (often used to keep change for parking meters) leave them open to view
  • Remove the facia of your sound system if it has one and use the PIN facility

For further advice about preventing vehicle crime please see the large chapter entitled Vehicle Security 

If you break down

Highway Code Rule 274. If your vehicle breaks down, think first of all other road users and

  • Get your vehicle off the road if possible
  • Warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is causing an obstruction
  • Help other road users see you by wearing light-coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing at night or in poor visibility
  • Put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road, or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing or retrieving them, but never use them on motorways
  • If possible, keep your sidelights on if it is dark or visibility is poor
  • Do not stand (or let anybody else stand) between your vehicle and oncoming traffic
  • At night or in poor visibility do not stand where you will prevent other road users seeing your lights

Additional rules for motorways

Highway Code Rule 275. If your vehicle develops a problem, leave the motorway at the next exit or pull into a service area. If you cannot do so, you should: 

  • pull on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as possible, with your wheels turned to the left try to stop near an emergency telephone (situated at approximately one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder)
  • leave the vehicle by the left-hand door and ensure your passengers do the same. You MUST leave any animals in the vehicle or, in an emergency, keep them under proper control on the verge. Never attempt to place a warning triangle on a motorway
  • do not put yourself in danger by attempting even simple repairs
  • ensure that passengers keep away from the carriageway and hard shoulder, and that children are kept under control
  • walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway (follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder) – the telephone is free of charge and connects directly to the Highways Agency or the police. Use these in preference to a mobile phone (see Rule 283). Always face the traffic when you speak on the phone
  • give full details to the Highways Agency or the police; also inform them if you are a vulnerable motorist such as disabled, older or travelling alone
  • return and wait near your vehicle (well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder)
  • if you feel at risk from another person, return to your vehicle by a left-hand door and lock all doors. Leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.

Laws MT(E&W)R reg 14 & MT(S)R reg 12

Highway Code Rule 276. Before you rejoin the carriageway after a breakdown, build up speed on the hard shoulder and watch for a safe gap in the traffic. Be aware that other vehicles may be stationary on the hard shoulder.

Highway Code Rule 277. If you cannot get your vehicle onto the hard shoulder

  • do not attempt to place any warning device on the carriageway
  • switch on your hazard warning lights
  • leave your vehicle only when you can safely get clear of the carriageway.

Highway Code Rule 278. Disabled drivers. If you have a disability which prevents you from following the above advice you should:

  • stay in your vehicle
  • switch on your hazard warning lights
  • display a ‘Help’ pennant or, if you have a car or mobile telephone, contact the emergency services and be prepared to advise them of your location

Additional things to consider if you break down - other than on a motorway:

  • If NOT on a motorway call your breakdown organisation and let them know if you are travelling alone and if you have children with you. By definition this means you should join a recovery organisation to minimise your personal risks
  • If NOT on a motorway and you do not have a charged mobile with you, walk to the nearest phone, which may be a public phone or an available phone in a busy place, such as a service station, retail outlet or licensed premises. Note the road name and landmarks so you can help the recovery organisation find you
  • If NOT on a motorway if you have broken down and someone offers to help, stay in the car with the doors locked and ask them to phone your recovery service. Do not get into a car with a stranger
  • If NOT on a motorway and on your own and waiting for help to arrive sit in the passenger seat as it looks as though someone has gone for help and gives the impression you are not a lone driver
  • If NOT on a motorway when the breakdown vehicle arrives, wind your window down slightly, ask for ID and check that they know your name
  • If NOT on a motorway and you witness an accident or someone tries to flag you down, think carefully before stopping. It may be safer to drive on and phone the police from a safe location
  • If NOT on a motorway and your car is hit from behind, think twice before you get out of the car. If you feel threatened, lock your doors and sound your horn to attract attention and use a mobile phone to contact the police

Updated October 2015