WITH a number of heartbreaking hijack stories making the news recently, the matter of driver skill and awareness has once again been given attention. Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa has a team of certified professionals who train drivers around the country as part of its driving skills for life programme.
While many tertiary driving courses focus on performance dynamics at race tracks, the DSFL instructors impart invaluable knowledge for everyday driving scenarios. These include training on conserving fuel through smarter driving, advice on how to better read the flow of traffic and other, practical money-saving tips.
This involves not only collision avoidance techniques, but also pointers for driver awareness in situations such as hijackings.
* Keep an eye out for people approaching you or loitering near cars.
* Alert security of suspicious activity.
* Keep your car keys ready when approaching your car.
* Remain alert while loading and off-loading goods.
* Park as close as possible to entrances or security.
* When approaching your car observe under and around it for anything suspicious.
* Lock your doors and drive off as quickly as possible.
* If you're concerned for your safety, ask centre security for assistance.
* Be on the lookout for people loitering near entrances.
* If you're approached, drive away.
* Ensure the area around entrances is well lit.
* Remain alert when unlocking gates, or ask passengers to open gates.
* Leave your car running with keys inside to preserve your own safety.
* Ensure gate is immediately locked behind you.
On the road:
* Keep proper stopping distances and plan escape routes.
* Map your route when driving on unknown roads.
* Change driving routes and habits.
* Position the car to prevent being blocked in.
* When parking, reverse park for a quicker exit.
* Keep an eye on people or vehicles loitering near intersections.
* Look for suspicious vehicles that may have followed you.
* Should a vehicle bump your car, assess whether you believe it was an accident or not.
* Choose a lane that will allow for an easy escape route on the left or right.
* Drive more slowly when approaching intersections to avoid coming to a complete stop.
* Always be prepared to take action.
* If there's no escape route use your hooter and lights to draw attention.
* Be aware of vehicles tailing you or trying to cut you off.
* If you hit something on the road do not stop but drive on as far as possible.
* If you cannot continue, stop, get out and run away - phone the police if possible.
The five golden rules to remember:
1. Remain calm.
2. Do not make sudden gestures.
3. Avoid eye contact - except to identify.
4. Comply with hijacker's directions.
5. Move away from the vehicle - get children out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
For more information on Driving Skills for Life visit www.ford.co.za.