Beat behind-the-wheel bullies

Peterborough businesswomen learn the art of roadside self-defence

A CAR confidence evening has made local women more aware of how to protect themselves against the dangers they could face on the road.

Following a recent spate of stories about aggressive driving in the media, around 90 women (and quite a few men) braved torrential rain to attend a Women in Gear car workshop evening.

The event was a self-help course 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.

Grant HicksKarate instructor and self-protection specialist Grant Hicks made the subject of defending yourself from a would-be mugger both entertaining and instructive (left). 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.

Oil checkIn workshops volunteers were encouraged to change a car’s wheel under the supervision of the Peugeot dealership’s service technicians and were given practical advice including dealing with roadside emergencies, routine car maintenance and checking oil and fluid levels (right).

Lorraine McGee, who is a local health care assistant, 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. “Marshall’s Women in Gear 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.”

Cheryl McCready, a solicitor based at Greenwoods in Peterborough, agreed that the practical approach was best. “I liked the sound of the Women in Gear course and wanted to know what to 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 hazardous road conditions,” she said.

If they prove popular, more courses may be held by the Marshall Peugeot dealership in Boongate and times will be geared around public demand. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in attending a similar event in future, call 01992 300344.