There are thousands of incidents reported on South Africa’s roads every day. These incidents come in many forms, including accidents, breakdowns and hijackings, and according to the AA, each needs to be handled in a different way if you want to get out of the situation unscathed. Read on to find the steps you should follow in each of these emergencies.
- Learn about hijacking hotspots in your area and avoid them.
- Be aware when approaching your car.
- Let someone know where and when you are travelling and how you’re getting there.
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up, and make sure all valuables are out of site.
- If you are involved in a hijacking situation, try to stay calm.
- Try to follow the demands of the hijacker, and don’t resist or fight to keep any of your possessions.
- Don’t provoke your attackers, and try not to make eye contact or any sudden movements.
- Contact emergency services as soon as possible after the incident is over.
- Try to remember as much of the incident as possible to give an accurate description to the police.
Breaking down at night
- Turn on your car’s hazard lights.
- Move your car as far off the road as possible.
- Establish how serious the problem is, and if you can fix it yourself.
- If you can’t fix it yourself, call for help. Make sure you provide an accurate location.
- Stay alert towards suspicious activity.
- If your vehicle is safely off the road, it is safer to stay inside it.
- If you want to exit your vehicle, do so through the passenger door.
- Move to the side of the vehicle, and don’t stand behind it.
Civil unrest (strikes, marches, etc.)
- Keep abreast of any strikes or marches discussed in the media.
- If possible, avoid areas involved in civil unrest.
- If you’re involved in a civil unrest situation, remain in your vehicle unless it becomes unsafe to do so.
- Try to keep moving out of the area as quickly as possible. Move slowly and don’t provoke the crowd by hooting or shouting.
- If necessary, abandon your vehicle and move to a safe place.
- Make sure you and your loved ones are not injured.
- Get to a safe place.
- Determine if anyone else was involved in the accident and if they’ve been injured.
- Contact emergency services.
- Once the first 4 steps have been completed, start gathering the personal information from the others involved in the accident, including names, addresses, contact details, insurance details, identity number and driver’s licence number. Be prepared to provide your details to them.
- Record the location of the accident and the damage that occurred to the vehicles involved.
- Contact your insurer before getting your vehicle towed – they can help you determine which service will be appropriate for you. Never sign a blank ‘towing permission’ form.
- Report the accident to the police. You’re legally required to do this within 24 hours.
- Never drive off if you’re in a collision with a pedestrian – hit-and-runs are punishable by law. Be aware, however, that some criminal elements may fake pedestrian accidents in order to prey on motorists.
- Stop as soon as possible after the incident.
- If you feel that stopping might put you in danger, then move on to the nearest safe location before calling the police.
- Establish whether the pedestrian has been injured and assist them if possible.
- Contact emergency services and the police immediately.
- Record the details of the accident for your statement to the police later.
- Report the incident to the police within 24 hours.
- Avoid driving during heavy storms.
- If this is not possible, stay away from areas prone to flash flooding, low-lying bridges and large bodies of water.
- Rather than trying to move through a dangerous area, try to find a different route instead.
- If your car is caught by a flash flood and begins floating, open your door to let some water in. This will weigh your car down, helping it to stop floating.
- If your vehicle is being swept away, abandon it as soon as you can safely do so.
- If you’re swept away outside your vehicle, try to keep your feet pointed downstream: this will help to keep your head above water.
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