October is Transport Month, and no matter how you get from A to B, it’s a good time to pay attention to your mode of transport and getting to your destination safely. Whether you have your own ride, rely on a friend for a lift or use public transport, there are a few safety precautions you should consider before you hop in and drive off.
Make sure that the vehicle you are travelling in is roadworthy and has enough fuel. While a vehicle used for public transport must be regularly tested for roadworthiness, a personal use vehicle is only tested when it is registered. Wear and tear to the vehicle can eventually lead to breakdown or an accident if it is not regularly checked. You do not want to find yourself stuck on the side of the road, especially in a quiet area or at night.
If you’re e-hailing a ride, make sure that the taxi you are taking is the correct one. Check the registration of the car and the identification of the driver and make use of the app’s share trip feature where you can alert loved ones of your movements and expected time of arrival. Most importantly, always do a quick check of the whole car before getting in.
Always be vigilant about where you are and your surroundings. Look out for suspicious persons or vehicles and be aware of who might be watching you or following you when leaving shopping centres, fuel stations or other public places.
Limit the amount of cash and valuables you have with you and avoid travelling with valuables in sight. In some cases, robberies occur not for the vehicle itself but for the valuables inside.
Always keep the car doors locked and windows closed. If you are taking public transport and current Covid-19 regulations require that you keep the windows open, hide your bag and rather stay off your mobile phone until you reach your destination. With the window open you are more vulnerable to attack and your valuables being snatched from you.
Thanks to modern advancements in vehicle telematics, a vehicle tracker can play an active part in keeping you safe. Certain services come with impact detection, which immediately alerts the control centre linked to the service if the car you are travelling in is involved in an accident and can even indicate the severity of the incident.
Similar services also come with an assist button inside the vehicle that can be pressed to receive roadside or medical emergency assistance. Premium services allow the subscriber to set safe and no-go zones and receive a notification should the car enter any high-risk areas.
Always let someone close to you know of your movements and your anticipated arrival time, so that they can alert the authorities if you don’t check in. Some vehicle tracking services have apps that allow the driver to share their journey with a friend or family member, who is then able to follow the route and know where the car’s occupants are and that they are safe. Other services include the dispatch of armed security personnel to your exact location if you are in danger or feeling threatened, by simply sending a location pin to a tracking service provider via WhatsApp.
Remember, most modern phones need to be unlocked for use and so having your ICE or ‘In Case of Emergency’ contact on your phone isn’t helpful. It might be better to write this down on a good old-fashioned piece of paper and put it in your bag or car.
“Prevention is better than cure, so remember to be cautious at all times when travelling,” says Duma Ngcobo, Chief Operating Officer at Tracker. “Even if your mode of transport is on a railway rather than a road, some of these tips can still be put into use. Have a backup plan in case of an emergency. Ensure that you have emergency contact numbers saved on your phone and make sure your mobile phone is charged. If a robbery occurs, remember your life is worth more than your valuables, so keep calm, co-operate and try to get away as quickly as possible.”