Do's and don'ts: Top driving tips to avoid vehicle crime in SA
South Africa - Earlier in 2017, Wheels24 reported that the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics for 2016 reported an increase in so-called “trio crimes”; car-hijackings, house robberies and robberies at non-residential areas. These include car theft and items stolen from vehicles.
Andre Ittmann, vehicle recovery specialist Cartrack, CEO said: "The most important thing to remember if you do become a victim to one of these crimes, is that your life is more valuable than your possessions. Focus on what you can do to prevent yourself and your loved ones from harm."
More than 1400 vehicles are hijacked each month in South Africa, according to crime statistics by the SAPS.
Criminals can regard women as easier targets, especially when driving alone on our roads. Carmen Jacobs picked the brain of Arrive Alive advocate Johan Jonck on tips to help women safeguard themselves when driving alone.
1 While driving
• In peak hour traffic ensure you leave one vehicle-size space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
• Lock all doors and close windows when driving.
• Keep all valuable items, like laptops, handbags and cell phones out of sight.
• Be cautious of people approaching your window. They are often a distraction while their accomplice robs you on the other side.
• Never, ever give hitchhikers a lift.
2 Travelling routes
• Always plan your routes, especially if you need to drive to an unfamiliar place and stay on well-lit main roads.
• Avoid driving to unfamiliar places after dark, it’s easy to get lost and become an easy target for criminals.
• Ensure your cell phone battery is always fully charged and keep a car charger in your vehicle.
• Keep all emergency numbers ready on speed dial in case of an emergency.
• Women must pay close attention to where they park, whether in streets or at shopping centres, says Jonck as these places are often a haven for criminals to pounce on innocent and vulnerable drivers.
• Always park in a central, well-lit area, preferably where there are other movement and activity, avoid deserted areas.
• Make a mental note of where you parked, especially in underground parking areas take note of the floor you parked on.
• Keep your car keys in your hand when approaching your vehicle; this eliminates the need to scratch for them in your bag when you reach your car.
• Park in such a way, so that when you approach your vehicle you have a view of the driver’s side of your car when returning to your car.
• When approaching your car, walk around it and check that all is well, especially look at the tyres of the car, as criminals can use sharp objects to cut your tyres.
• Do not talk on your cell phone when walking to your car, this can be a distraction and immediately and swiftly pack all bags in the boot and drive.
4 Vehicle maintenance
• Keep your car in good mechanical condition and have it serviced regularly by a reputable garage. Ensure your fuel tank is filled and rather develop a habit to regularly fill up your tank when it is half, rather than to wait for the fuel tank empty-signage to be activated.
• Have a safety check done before embarking on each long trip.
• Empower yourself and learn how to change a tyre, to replace wiper blades and how to jumpstart a battery.
• Get into a habit of regularly checking your tyre’s condition and pressure. Also make it a priority to replace worn out tyres and ensure you always have a spare tyre in the boot.
5 Travelling with children
• Children should always wear a seat belt, even if travelling for a short distance.
• Do not allow children to share a seat belt with anyone.
• Children under the age of three should always be secure in a car seat.
• Ensure the car seat is correct in relation to the right size and age of the child.
• When placing the child in the car seat, check whether the seat belt of the car seat is firmly and properly tied.
• If your vehicle is involved in a crash, always replace the car seat.
• When arriving at your destination and your child is asleep in the car seat, do not under any circumstances leave your child in the car alone.
• Don’t allow children to sit on the laps of other people when driving in a car.
• Should you have to stop somewhere quick, don’t ever leave children unattended in the car. Make it a rule to take your children with you.