If you are one of the lucky people to go on holiday this December / January, it is vitally important to remember to maintain vigilance as you drive. Criminals take advantage "tourist" to their town and on their roads... here is tips to stay safe on our SA road whether you are a local or a visitor from abroad:
1 Stop your car in the road while you wait for the gate to open to your property. According to vehicle recovery company Tracker: "the leading modus operandi for hijackers in South Africa is to highjack you inside your driveway".
2 It is very important to always travel with your doors locked and to keep valuables out of sight. If your windows must be open ensure the opening isn't wide enough to fit a hand through.
3 Another good tip is to always leave enough space between your car and the one in front at a traffic light or stop-street to avoid being "boxed in" should you need to escape.
4 Be aware of any person approaching at traffic lights, stop streets or your driveway. Don't be distracted. If outside your home gate, drive away again.
5 Be aware of people loitering at road junctions. Tracker reports that its has arrested several women for hijacking in recent years, either working alone or in a gangs with men.
6 Do not drive directly home after drawing money from a bank teller or ATM. Spotters working inside the bank can relay the information by cellphone to accomplices outside who might follow you home.
7 Always park your vehicle at a secure location, if possible near closed-circuit TV cameras.
8 Make sure your vehicle is properly locked by testing the door release before you walk away; the threat here is called "jamming". Under no circumstances leave valuables in your car.
9 Avoid stopping on a highway; rather take the next off-ramp and find a public area where you can stretch, refresh yourself and/or take a break from driving. Apart from which, stopping on a freeway is illegal. Have numbers for roadside assistance and other emergency services close to hand or saved on your cellphone.
10 If you're involved in a collision take a series of pictures with a camera/cellphone from a number of positions all around the wreckage. File an accident report with the police within 24-hours; you will need a case number for your insurance company to file a claim.
But first do what you can for the injured and call emergency services. Get everybody out of your car and right off the carriageway. Then remember to obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers and ID numbers of everyone involved in the crash, including passengers. Ask to see the other driver's driving licence - photograph it if possible - and allow him/her to do the same with yours.
DON'T LEAVE THE SCENE
Arguing and shouting will not help; neither will threats of or actual violence. If you have a roadside assistance plan in force on your car then use it, if your car is undriveable, to recover luggage and personal items and to arrange transport for your family / passengers and vehicle recovery and storage.
Assuming you are not badly hurt, do not leave the scene until the police have all the information they need.
Figures and information provided by Tracker, Arrive Alive and Wheels24.