I'm in my 20's and have been full time on the road for about 6 years. The UHaul
and massive dog are a recent addition to it this year.
Admittedly, I recently took a few late fall/winters off to stay with family and finish my degree. Still, as a kiddo I had been traveling on my own since 14 riding buses and squatting. Not a problem kid, no drugs, just a weirdo.
Safety is a huge concern for many women who want to travel on their own, but personally I've found the best remedy to shady situations is confidence, attitude, and plain not going to obvious trouble. If you act like you know what you're doing and you've done it a million times people don't mess with you. Ner-do-wellers are looking for victims and easy marks, not a fight. If you get a weird feeling, there's probably a reason for it. Even if you do run in to trouble reacting with annoyance and fury fends off those who are expecting fear.
While sleeping at a rest stop, I chased off a man petting my face through the window with a plastic lime green airsoft gun. If you knock on road side bathroom door and someone says "Come in", understand that you don't have to pee that bad. If the elderly owner of a hotel in AR offers to make you a sandwich if you keep him company.. well.. That's one of those troubles you just avoid. Proclaiming my love for an imaginary boyfriend got him to unlock the door and let me out on that one.
Still, out of all the people I have met on the road these are a rare. Also, shaving in a mohawk won't hurt.
All in all, it really saddens me to think that women feel they can't do this for the simple fact they are women and possible victims. The threat isn't as big as the news makes it seem. Seize you day and see the world.