Stay safe on the roads this festive season

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young woman driver checking a rear view mirror.

It’s December and holiday time and you’re more than likely heading off in the car to get to family or friends. Motorists should remain vigilant and take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. Netstar highlights the importance of drivers taking precautions to protect themselves – particularly during the festive season.

The recent crime statistics, released in November 2022, shows a 23.6% jump in carjackings compared to the same period last year. In addition, hostage takings have increased significantly as criminals use techniques such as impersonating law enforcement officials to flag down unsuspecting drivers. When driving at night and being stopped by a vehicle fitted with blue lights, acknowledge the lights, by switch on your hazard lights, but only stop at a safe location such as, nearest Petrol Station or SAPS.

In the unfortunate event of a hijacking, there are still ways to minimise harm and help ensure the best possible outcome. The following pointers apply:

  • Remain calm. Despite the high-stress situation, try to stay calm, so the hijackers do not lose their composure.
  • Comply. Do as you are told. Surrender any valuables requested and get out of the vehicle if asked to do so.
  • Say you will remove your seatbelt. Notify the hijackers that you are removing your seatbelt, so they do not misunderstand your intentions.
  • Move away from the vehicle. If asked to get out of your car, immediately get out and move as far as you can away from the vehicle.
  • Leave everything. Do not try to retrieve something from the vehicle. Stolen vehicles can be recovered. Property can always be replaced. Human life is priceless.
  • Ask to remove your child. If you have a baby or a young child in a car seat, ask that you be allowed to get them out of the car.
  • Avoid eye contact. Assume a passive attitude, look down and do as you are told.
  • Take mental notes. Remember as much information as you can: how many hijackers, their accent, any distinguishing aspects, and in which direction they left.
  • Notify your tracking provider if you have one. The Netstar Companion App offers a panic button, that alerts your loved ones, emergency medical services and armed response to your location. Otherwise, call the police on 08600 10111, go to the nearest house, or flag down a passing vehicle.

Further, always be aware of your surroundings when you are near your home. Do not hold your cell phone when waiting for the green light because your guard is down. Also, lookout for vehicles that have been following you for some time and strangers standing and vehicles parked near your home. Make it your goal to stay safe and protect your loved ones.

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