Driven - - Contents -

Stay alert and alive

Ver­ena Hulme, District Man­ager at Fidelity ADT ad­vises, “Al­ways make sure you know what is hap­pen­ing around your ve­hi­cle so that you can see any dan­ger com­ing be­fore it is too late.”

Pre­ven­tion is al­ways bet­ter than cure, she says. Hulme rec­om­mends the fol­low­ing steps to pre­vent any hi­jack­re­lated in­ci­dents from possibly oc­cur­ring: • When park­ing, re­verse park for a quick

exit (also at home).

• Al­ways be par­tic­u­larly vig­i­lant when you leave a shop­ping cen­tre. Hi­jack­ers could have spot­ters work­ing in the cen­tre to alert of any big pur­chases or cash with­drawals.

• Keep­ing your car keys in hand when ap­proach­ing your ve­hi­cle, do not fum­ble in your hand­bag as this shows you are off guard.

• Look out for any sus­pi­cious ob­jects

near your car be­fore get­ting in.

• If you sus­pect you are be­ing fol­lowed, put your in­di­ca­tor on and slow down at least two to three houses be­fore your home. If you are be­ing fol­lowed, you will force the ve­hi­cle be­hind you to pass, which may cause the crim­i­nals to lose in­ter­est.

• Al­ways make sure you can see the back wheels of the car in front of you when you stop in the traf­fic, as this gives you enough room to ma­noeu­vre and es­cape.

• If you need to stop in your drive­way to man­u­ally open the gate, al­ways leave the key in the ig­ni­tion and the mo­tor run­ning un­less you have a child in the car. Only then should you take the key with you as you open the gate. The key is a valu­able ne­go­ti­at­ing tool – they want your car and you want your child. • Ad­just your speed when ap­proach­ing a traf­fic light so that you do not have to come to a com­plete stop where at all pos­si­ble.

• Don’t fall for the “tap-tap” trap where

a driver taps the back of your car in

traf­fic. Never get out of your car on the scene to as­sess the dam­age but rather drive to a busy lo­ca­tion.

• If you live in a se­cure com­plex with se­cu­rity guards, do not be fooled into think­ing you are safe. You can eas­ily be fol­lowed into your com­plex, so al­ways re­main vig­i­lant. Re­search shows that most peo­ple re­lax the closer they get to home, and this is of­ten when they are most vul­ner­a­ble.

• Phone ahead to give a rel­a­tive or friend

your ex­pected time of ar­rival.

• Get­ting to know your neigh­bours and the cars they drive will help to iden­tify any un­com­mon ve­hi­cles in your area. Hulme, how­ever, ad­vises that if you do find your­self face-to-face with a hi­jacker, “The golden rule is to not an­tag­o­nise the hi­jack­ers, you need to show them you are not a threat. Lift up your arms to show you have no weapon and will sur­ren­der. Use your left arm to undo your seat­belt and put your car in neu­tral”. Do not turn off your car, she says, and get out slowly.

“Try and an­gle your body side­ways, so you are not fac­ing a firearm head-on. Also, re­mem­ber to pro­tect your head with your arms and avoid di­rect eye con­tact with the hi­jack­ers, but try to take in as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble– such as what they are wear­ing, and the sound of their voices. Most im­por­tantly, try to re­main calm”.

Hulme says th­ese are the seven “golden rules” to fol­low if you are be­ing held up by a hi­jacker:

• Re­main calm.

• Do not ar­gue.

• Do not make sud­den ges­tures.

• Avoid eye con­tact, but try to re­mem­ber what the car­jacker looked like by iden­ti­fy­ing and re­tain­ing any spe­cial fea­tures.

• Com­ply with the hi­jack­ers’ di­rec­tions

(within rea­son).

• Try and get away from the area as

quickly as pos­si­ble.

• Don’t be a hero – your life is worth

more than your car!

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