It's not just spies that get tailed. Law enforcement doesn't usually waste time and resources following random people, but they're not the only ones interested in the lives of others. Private detectives, angry exes, friends or family of exes, or even that guy you accidentally cut off changing lanes a few miles back may have been following you this whole time, seething and ready to give you a piece of their mind.
Don't underestimate how even small things can set dangerous people off. These are the easiest people to identify and avoid. We're not saying live your life paranoid, and if you can't think of a reason someone would follow you, odds are you're not being followed, but we are saying that a little knowledge and awareness of your surroundings at all times goes a very long way.
If you're driving and think another car is following you, here are some tips to help you stay safe and deal with the situation.
Stay calm. The first point is to stay calm. You’re in your car, and they are in theirs, and as long as it stays that way you are safe, even if you do feel scared and uncomfortable. So, if your doors aren’t already locked, now would be a great time to activate the central locking button before continuing to drive carefully; it is very easy to focus all your attention in the rear-view mirror, leaving yourself dangerously distracted and neglecting what’s happening on the road in front of you.
Don’t speed up. You probably aren’t pursuit trained by the police, so there is nothing to be gained by trying to out-run a stalker. The best thing to do is to concentrate on the road in front of you and tell yourself that the car behind might not be following you after all and it might just be a coincidence (which is the most likely situation, and the safest way for you to act).
Ignore flashing headlights. If the other driver starts to flash their headlights, they might just be warning you of a problem that you aren’t aware of. Or they might be trying to lull you into pulling over. The best bet is to carry on and to pull over only when you reach a place of safety.
Seek a place of safety. If you are convinced that you are being followed then you should make your way to a place of safety. Pull onto the forecourt, stay sitting in your car with the doors locked, and sound your horn until you’ve got everyone’s attention. Keep sounding your horn until someone comes over to see what all the fuss is about. You can then crack open your window a little way to tell them your concerns.
Consider a dashcam. You can buy a dashcam that has two lenses, one to film in front of the car and one to film behind it. These can be invaluable as trying to juggle the steering wheel and simultaneously write down the car’s number plate is too dangerous to consider, but a video of the incident will be invaluable to the police.
Take a mental note. Even without the benefit of a dashcam, you can still make a mental note of the stalker’s appearance, as well as that of the vehicle. Are they old or young? Male or female? Bearded or clean-shaven? You’d be amazed at how many witnesses can’t recall even these basics because their mind is working overtime, fuelled by a mind-numbing combination of fear and adrenaline.
- Download the Leelou App. If you feel like the tips above matches your situation, get your smartphone ready and open the Leelou App. With the help of this, you'll get immediate personal safety and the five guardians you listed will be notified of your location, battery percentage and even record the voice within your surroundings in case any person is looking after you or attacked you. This app is totally free and can be downloaded in the iOS Apple Store and Android Google Playstore.
When it is safe to do so, pull over and make copious notes; the police refer to these as ‘contemporaneous notes’ and they are good evidence in the event that they find and prosecute your stalker.
Last but not least…
- Report it. Even if the incident ends, with the stalker peeling off and driving away, you should report the incident to the police anyway; just because you’ve been sensible and scared him off doesn’t mean that he won’t try it again with someone else…