Pretoria - According to South African Police Service crime statistics, vehicle hijackings increased by 5.4 percent to 9990 reported cases in 2012/13 - that's about 28 every day.
For the same period, research undertaken by Arrive Alive showed that the majority of hijackings occurred between 5pm and 8pm when people were on their way home from work.
Robyn Farrell, executive head of 1st for Women Insurance commented: “You're most vulnerable when you are getting into or out of your car - so don't hang around in your driveway with the engine idling!
“Another trick hijackers use is to pretend to be police and get you to pull over, and we've also heard about hijackers bumping into the car in front of them, forcing it to stop,” she added. “In either case, if you don't feel safe stopping, drive to the nearest police station.”
While driving away from the scene of an accident may have unforeseen insurance consequences, she said, the driver’s safety has to come first, and each case will be assessed on merit.
FARRELL’S ANTI-HIJACKING TIPS:
Walk confidently to your car with your phone off and out of sight, and your keys ready but not visible. Unlock the car only when you're within a pace or two and check the back seat before getting in - even if you left it locked.
A well-maintained car is less likely to break down - keep your car in good condition. If you do break down then pull over, turn the hazard lights on and call for emergency assistance.
Plan your route, drive with a GPS and - like a private pilot - let somebody know your route and when you expect to get there.
Checking your rear-view mirror is part of driving; be aware if the same vehicle pops up behind you more than once and - if you suspect you're being followed - drive to the nearest police station or busy public area.
Keep windows closed and doors locked, with all valuables out of sight; if possible, install a smash-and-grab window film for extra protection.
Avoid distractions while driving - checking Facebook and Twitter in the car is out!
When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear of shrubbery.
If your gate has a sensor, close it with your remote rather than waiting for it to close automatically; this leaves less time for somebody to slip in after you.
Always park in a central, well-lit place, preferably with guards on duty.
When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a car's length in front so you can make an emergency escape if necessary.
When visiting people, phone ahead and ask somebody to open and close the gate for you. When coming home, you can also call your security company and ask them to meet you close to home.