Basingstoke Audi recently hosted 70 mostly female drivers along with Councillor Anne Court, Mayor of Basingstoke & Deane, and her husband and consort Richard Court at a Women in Gear car confidence evening. Devoted to self-help and safer driving, the evening focused on topics such as how to change a wheel, routine car care and maintenance, safer driving and how to ward off a possible 'road rage' attacker'.
Self-protection specialist Andy Williams from the Realistic Self Defense Organisation made the subject of defending yourself from a would-be attacker entertaining and instructive. As well as talking about personal safety, he showed those in attendance some quick-fire methods of defence against would be attackers, which involved disarming them in a series of simple moves with everyday items such as car keys, a deoderant can or a pen.
Ex-Police Chief Inspector Vic Botterill then explored the psychology behind dangerous and aggressive driving behaviour and how to deal with 'behind-the-wheel bullies' with members of the audience being invited to share their own experiences about their own behaviour when under pressure. He went on to suggest that communication can often prevent something more serious than a blast of the car horn and that by showing restraint and courtesy, problems need not arise. Often a polite nod or a wave can defuse a potential conflict. He explained:
"Peoples' behaviour often changes when they get behind the wheel of a car, so it's all about how we can relate to others while we're in the car. Things that wind others up include lack of indicating, tailgating, driving too slowly, lane blocking and cutting up. How you feel inside tends to govern how you deal with and respond to the world outside. Interestingly, if you start being polite and considerate to others when you're in the car then you find others on the road will do the same back to you. Drivers need to try and control their environment and a good way to start is by having more patience."
Claire Lymer and Gillean Miller from the Basingstoke Advanced Drivers were on hand to discuss their organisation's advanced driving courses with those interested.
For many in attendance it was the hands on aspects of the evening that impressed them within Basingstoke Audi's workshop. Our technicians offered practical advice on dealing with emergencies such as changing a wheel at the roadside, routing car maintenance and cheking oil and fluid levels.
Mayor Cllr Court took close interest in this part of the evening and said that the event made her feel more in control of her car. She added: "I strongly believe that other car dealers should be doing things like this so full marks to Basingstoke Audi. Their practical, hands on approach made me aware that as a woman I should be more independent and I am not afraid to look under the bonnet of my car any more. I also realise that it's very important to know how to look after your vehicle between servicing intervals and not have to rely on the help of passers-by, which can be a danger in itself."
Adele Mandrell, an IT manager with Apply Uxbrudge, often finds herself driving a lot for work: "I found the practical approach taken by Basingstoke Audi was most useful. Normally, I would have telephoned one of the rescue services if I encountered a problem. But at least I now know how to change a car wheel properly if I'm forced to. I can see why it's important to check the various fluids under the bonnet of the car if you want to keep your car reliable and prevent a breakdown."
More courses may be held in the future, for further information about Women in Gear evenings contact Liz Luesley on 01276 606500.