As Christmas nears, the amount of festive parties you attend annually is at an all-time high and thus so is the need for safe transportation. Considering walking is 36 times more dangerous than driving and Prince George winters can get deathly cold, be prepared if you do go out with a means of getting yourself home (i.e. credit card or cash). Within Prince George there are several paid options for a ride home including three taxi services (Prince George Taxi Ltd., Emerald Taxi and City Centre Cabs), the city bus, or a chauffeur/Designated Driver service known as Keys Please. Operation Rednose is another chauffeur service operated by volunteers that is completely free to users in their operating hours (though they accept donations).
If there are no alternatives and you do not have a designated driver, you may be one of many individuals faced with the prospect of hitching a ride home. Although this should be a last resort, it is a reality for some people face and needs to be discussed openly.
If possible, plan to spend a night with a friend and travel home with that friend as you are safer in pairs or groups. Discuss in advance how you plan to get home and where you will be staying so there is no confusion. Make sure you both are prepared with the cash you intend to carry on you –withdrawn in the daytime – and avoid withdrawing cash at night.
Selecting a vehicle is arguably the most crucial part to getting home safe and requires you to trust your instincts. Rather than ask for a ride and volunteer where you want to go first, ask the driver what direction they are heading and if the directions do not match up do not ask that person for a ride. Likewise, it is probably best to avoid accepting rides from cars with multiple grown males or from cars that appear to be mechanically unsound. If at any point you feel uneasy, trust your gut and turn down the ride.
When a vehicle has been selected to take you home, make sure to note the license plate number, the make, model and color of the vehicle, as well as a description of the driver and share this information with a trusted friend or family member (or several). If you include your location you can also help give your people an estimated time of arrival, just to be cautious. As you get in the vehicle, sit in the front and make sure to keep your personal items easily within your reach at all times. You can also check if the doors open from the inside by pretending not to have closed the door properly. At no point should you fall asleep while you are travelling.
Try to avoid discussing politics, religion, race, or other potentially controversial subjects with your driver. The last thing you want is to provoke them into becoming angry or emotional while behind the wheel. If they persist in their attempts to start a conversation on these topics, try to change the subject or give boring/vague answers to their questions until they lose interest and move on.
If the driver is taking an unfamiliar, off-course route or is driving erratically, get out of the vehicle as soon as safely possible. Use an excuse to get the driver to stop such as needing to use a washroom, or feeling nauseous and needing to vomit.
To be extra cautious, there are safety apps available for a range of devices for free such as bSafe, Red Panic Button, Circle of 6, or Presence that may be worth checking out.
Cheers, everyone and get home safe!