By Wilma Bedford
Long weekends usually result in a carnage on our roads, and it is essential that you not only take the usual precautions, but also are aware of other dangers on our roads. More than ever before, it is essential that your vehicle is well maintained, that you have good driving skills and that you and your passengers are vigilant.
1) Hold a family meeting. This is a golden opportunity to raise road safety awareness in your children.
Get the younger children to name and even write down what needs to be done in advance to ensure a safe journey. Help them to note down everything about a car’s maintenance that would prevent a car from needlessly breaking down along the road. Get them to compile a checklist to present to the driver a day in advance to remind him or her of vehicle maintenance and roadworthiness.
It is also an excellent opportunity focus attention on road safety, for example the purpose and meaning of road signs and speed limits. The teenager who wants to obtain a learner’s license will enjoy this exercise and provide valuable input.
2) Determine the condition of the roads you are going to travel on by visiting the following web pages: www.nra.co.za National Road Agency; www.aa.co.za Automobile Association and click on Advice and Information; www.arrivealive.mobi>monitor-and-repair-of -the –roads
3) Don’t become a victim of road rage. If you made a mistake, acknowledge it with a passive gesture. This will usually defuse a conflict situation.
4) Hijacking is the new hazard on our roads. Hijacking unfortunately has become a daily harsh reality on our roads. Statistics show that more hijackings take place on Fridays, probably owing to higher volumes of vehicles on the roads, and that most hijackings are committed between 12:00 and 20:00, also because of higher traffic volumes during this time.
Hijacking can happen to any person and virtually anywhere, but when one is in holiday spirit, one tends to be less observant of one’s environment.
Be aware of their modus operandi:
- Hijacking takes place when your vehicle is stationary, such as at traffic lights or crossings, or when a vehicle has stopped for the driver to take a telephone call, for example.
- Be alert in parking lots, and you may be followed from a filling station with a view to being hijacked in a quiet area.
- A second vehicle may be used to force you off the road.
- Hijackings also take place while the vehicle is idling when a passenger is getting out of the vehicle.
- Hijackers often pretend to be police officers.
- A faked “accident” may occur in front of you to create an obstruction, or the hijacker may crash into your vehicle.
- When a number of job seekers are waiting alongside the road, hijackers often pretend to be job seekers or beggars.
- They also use obstructions on the road that damage the tyres of vehicles.
What to do:
- Be particularly alert if you are driving one of the followings cars: VW Polo sedan/hatchback; the Toyota and Ford Ranger series.
- Make sure your doors are locked and your windows are closed.
- As far as possible, avoid arriving at your destination during the night, and avoid “hot spots” even if you have to take a longer route.
- Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you when you have to stop; leave at least half a vehicle length between you and the car in front of you so you can swerve away if necessary.
- If you become suspicious, drive to the nearest filling station. Filling stations usually have cameras that will document possible incidents.
- Know where your nearest police station is to report incidents or suspicious persons.
- Do not stop at road accidents: sometimes they are traps for hijacking.
- Do not drive over items lying on the road.
- Do not buy items from vendors at traffic lights. Hijackers sometimes pretend to be vendors.
- Keep valuable items such as your cell phone out of sight.
- Keep emergency numbers on your cell phone and on your passengers’ phones, such as 10111 for the police and 112 for any network; the Netcare 911 emergency number is 082 911; and ER24’s emergency number is 084 124.
If you are being hijacked:
- Do not offer resistance. A car can be replaced, but your life and the lives of your loved ones cannot be replaced.
- Do not get angry.
- Do exactly what the hijackers demand.
- Keep your hands visible to the hijackers and do not make sudden movements.
- Avoid making eye contact: it could be interpreted as aggression.
- If possible, activate your vehicle’s tracking system.
Hijackers target these vehicles in South Africa Staff Writer12 November 2021 Businesstech https://businesstech.co.za/news/motoring/536714/hijackers-target-these-vehicles-in-south-africa/