Beating the behind-the-wheel bullies with Sturgess of Leicester

Leicester’s women learn the art of roadside self-defence Councillor Roger Blackmore and his wife Hilary Blackmore, Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leicester, joined over 100 mostly female visitors this week for a Women in Gear car confidence evening devoted to self-help and safer driving at local car dealership Sturgess in Almond Road, Leicester.

The event was a self-help course organised by Sturgess of Leicester 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.

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

Beating the behind-the-wheel bullies
“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.

The visitors headed for Sturgess’s workshop where volunteers were encouraged to change a car’s wheel under the supervision of the Volvo and Alfa Romeo dealership’s service technicians and were given practical advice including dealing with roadside emergencies, routine car maintenance and checking oil and fluid levels.

Beating the behind-the-wheel bullies
Lady Mayoress Hilary Blackmore welcomed the dealership’s practical approach: “I think these women’s self help car confidence courses are a fantastic idea and Sturgess are to be congratulated on offering this valuable service for local women drivers. I don’t think women can afford any longer to ignore the dangers on our roads,” she confessed. “Sturgess’s Women in Gear evening was well organised and great fun too. I feel that I have learned something useful about cars today.

Anita Parmar, who works for a local branch of John Lewis, agreed that the practical approach was best: “I never knew how to check the oil or change a wheel before I came here and now I know I can 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 road conditions.

“I also found the talks on dealing with aggressive drivers and ‘road rage’ extremely useful,” added Anita.

More courses will be held by the dealership in the New Year and times will once again be geared towards public demand.