With close to 13 000 cases of hijackings, excluding trucks and delivery vehicles, reported last year, it is no wonder that many women are highly concerned about their safety and that of their children.
Richard Brussow, of the National Hijack Prevention Academy, offers the following hints and tips for women drivers:
- Remember that 68 percent of all hijackings occur close to home so be especially vigilant when pulling out of your driveway or coming home.
- If you have an electric gate do not pull into your driveway before opening the gate. This can allow hijackers to box you in. Rather open your gate while your car is still in the road to allow a quick getaway if necessary.
- If you suspect you are being followed, put your indicator on and slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. If you are being followed, you will force the vehicle behind you to pass and this could cause the criminals to lose interest.
- If you have children in the car, the eldest child should be seated behind the driver and the youngest to the left.
- Statistics show that in only six out of 24 000 hijack cases, a child was taken with the vehicle. The reason is that when children are involved it becomes difficult for the hijackers as the crime escalates from a statistic crime with little attention to a priority crime attracting a lot of attention
- 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.
- Always make sure you can see the back wheels of the car in front of you when you stop in the traffic. This gives you enough room to maneuver and escape.
- Don’t fall for the “tap tap” trap where a driver taps the back of your car in traffic. They often use lady drivers as decoys here. Never get out of your car on the scene to assess the damage but rather drive to a busy location. Signal to the other driver to follow you. If it is not legitimate they will seldom follow you.
- When driving at night, always approach a bridge with caution and drop your speed in case of being targeted from the bridge. The R512, R21, R59 and N17 have all been earmarked as danger zones at night.
- If you stay 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.
In the unfortunate event that you are hijacked, how do you give your car over in a non-threatening manner?
- The first and golden rule is to not antagonise the hijackers who are probably more scared than you are. 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.
- Be cautious not to use your right arm to lean across your body and undo your seatbelt or unlock the door. This could be construed as you reaching for a gun.
- Do not turn off your car.
- Get out slowly and 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 to lift your shoulders to protect your neck area.
- Do not turn your back on the hijackers – your organs are most exposed from the back.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers but still try to take in what they are wearing, the sound of their voices, etc.
- Should you be hijacked while your children are in the car, climb out of the vehicle slowly and move to the back door directly behind the driver’s door. Place one foot in the car as you lean across to retrieve the youngest child. The eldest child will probably cling to you and you can get both children out of the car at once. Remember to stay as calm as possible.