Stay Safe during Your Daily Commute

by Jhoanna O. Gan So for Manila Bulletin & HR Club Phlippines

 

So many taxi crimes have been reported by leading newspapers and news shows. 

There was the case of an HR officer from a Call Center Company who rode a cab and was shot on the face by the cab driver who turned out to be a robber, after she refused to hand over her belongings.

Another case involved a college student from a prestigious university who rode on a cab and didn't see a man hidden in another seat.  She was held up, brought to a motel and raped at knife point.

Yet another incident involved a couple who were refused exit from the cab they were riding after they refused to pay the extra money the cab driver was demanding on top of the meter reading.  They had to jump off the speeding cab to escape.

These incidents are just some of the crimes that you may face as you commute daily to and from work.  It is a real concern as anyone can easily be victimized. If you have no choice but to commute to work every day like majority of the Filipino workforce, it is essential to protect yourself from any threat.

Here are some of the most practical tips I gathered to help you be safe during your daily commute.  These can help save your life or catch perpetrators in case you get victimized.  Let's be vigilant in keeping ourselves safe.

Never Put Your Guard Down
When commuting by yourself, do not take a nap in the bus or cab.  This makes you most vulnerable to crimes and an easy target.  Try to be alert no matter how tired you are.  Before entering a cab, scan the interior first to make sure that it doesn't look suspicious and there are no hidden passengers lurking.

Record License & Plates
Upon entering a cab, take note of the license numbers and operator.  You may write it on your hand, text the info to your friend, or take a snapshot and send it via Wi-Fi or cloud.  In case you get victimized or you leave important items in the cab, you will be able to track down the vehicle and cab driver after.

Commute with a Friend
Try to find a friend or colleague who live in the same area or use the same route.  By having a companion, you will be able to protect yourself better.  There is safety in numbers.  So take the effort to find a reliable companion.

Use Reputable Taxi or Bus Services
There are reputable taxi or bus services with fleets of vehicles.  It is better to use their services because they monitor their drivers and vehicles.  If you can afford the extra service charge, call for a pick up especially if you are unfamiliar with the place you are going to.

Use Crime Prevention Gadgets
There are pepper sprays, personal alarms and Tasers available in the market that you can use for crime prevention.  If you commute daily, this may be worth the investment.  But you have to keep it accessible and on hand every time you commute.  You cannot be fumbling around and looking for it at the height of a crime.  At the very least, hold a sharp object or even just a pen during your ride.  Some mobile phones and gadgets also have a tracking device.  This may be useful if you and your phone get lost.

Find Work that is Close to Your Home
The longer your commute, the higher your chances will be on exposure to crime.  So if you can afford to, find a job that is close to your home or if not, find a home that is close to your workplace.  Not only will you be able to cut your exposure to bad elements, you will also be able to save time and money.  Some companies also offer free transport services.  If you are fortunate enough to be employed by one, use the service.

Have Someone Wait Up for You
When you go out with your co-workers for some drinks at night, be sure to inform your loved ones where you are going.  If possible, have them wait up for you.  Sometimes, danger lurks just outside the gate of your home.  Having someone wait up for you can prevent these types of crime.  As an extra precaution, make it a habit to send a text message to your companions as soon as you get home.  This way, all of you will be accounted for.

Learn Self Defense
If you can afford to, learn basic self-defense.  Knowing where to kick and do a counter attack may come in handy.  It can empower you and arm you with the know-how to escape from a perpetrator.

Scream for Help
In case you figure into a crime and there are people nearby, scream and make noise.  Do this not because you are afraid, but more importantly, do this to attract attention so you can seek help.  Exercise caution when you do this.  Timing and opportunity can spell the difference between escape and getting harmed.

Give It Up
If you get held up with a gun or knife and you are cornered, most of the time, it is sensible to just give your belongings up.  A mobile phone, jewelry, a few bills is nothing compared to the value of your life.  Use your best judgement.  If cooperating is the best course of action, do so and just be observant so that you can report the crime after.  Be sure to notify banks of lost credit cards and your company for lost ID cards.

Crimes can happen when you least expect it.  So do your best to be vigilant about your personal safety and take extra precautions when commuting daily.  I hope the tips above will help and protect you and your families.  Be safe.