No matter the size of your fleet, any goods-carrying vehicles are at risk of their valuable cargo becoming a target for hijackers. Fleet managers and drivers must be vigilant of hijacking risks at all times. It is up to the companies and managers who operate vehicle fleets to mitigate those risks by doing everything they can to protect their drivers and vehicles. The threat of hijacking is especially concerning in South Africa where billions of rands are lost every year to thousands of hijackings on commercial vehicles.
Any company operating a fleet should be concerned about the potential danger to their drivers and the risk of losing their goods or the vehicles that transport them. Fleet managers are responsible for the safety of every person and all the products that enter their vehicles. Fortunately, there are many ways for fleet managers, drivers and companies to reduce their hijacking risk and to enhance their safety. Here are some of the ways:
For Fleet Managers and Companies
- Be aware of hijack trends and hijack-prevention methods through services like Arrive Alive and the National Hijack Prevention Academy which are updating their facts and resources often.
- Whether you are a manager, driver or executive, attending anti-hijacking courses every year or two can help them stay updated and clarify what can be done on the management side to enhance safety protocols.
- Make use of modern technologies like vehicle tracking and monitoring that can help prevent incidents and offer invaluable data if an incident does occur.
- Video telematics provide fleet managers with real-time vehicle tracking that means any unauthorised movements, irregular routes or prolonged stops are identified immediately as well as vehicle monitoring when in high-risk areas.
- All drivers should be equipped with a panic button that provides instant access to their managers, private security, police or other emergency services if an incident occurs.
- Upgrading and adding new technology can better your fleet security, tracking and rate of recovery and dissuade potential hijackers who will be aware of these advanced anti-hijacking tools.
- Customise, adapt and build your hijacking prevention guidelines to suit your drivers and your company’s needs.
- Consider installing back-up or hidden tracking units on vehicles or trailers that transport higher value goods.
- As above, attend anti-hijacking training regularly. If your company does not provide these, be sure to request them.
- Be aware of prevention methods and, in particular, hijack trends in South Africa so you know what to look out for while on the road. Lessons from Arrive Alive and the National Hijack Prevention Academy can help keep you safe in high-risk areas or situations.
- No matter how many years of experience you have, hijackings are putting drivers in danger more often and differently every year. Stay updated and aware of what risks you could be exposed to and what to do if caught in them.
- Know all your technology. Drivers must be well-versed in how the vehicle’s telematics, anti-hijacking systems and panic buttons are used and how they function. Make full use of these technologies and link them to your phone where possible.
- Access to emergency numbers, safety checklists and ensuring your own safety must be priorities because a hijacking situation will put you at the most risk. Insist on these tools and opportunities if they are not currently available to you.
Steps for Preventing a Hijack Situation
Approaching or entering premises:
- Be extra vigilant (turn off the radio and notice your surroundings) about 2km away from your destination. Notice any vehicles behind you and determine if they could be following you.
- Use your hijack prevention techniques to identify any potential threats.
- Stop your vehicle on the inside of the gate, put your vehicle in reverse and wait for the gate to close completely.
- Make sure to check the streets around you before leaving or entering any property.
Parking your vehicle:
- Check rear-view and side mirrors to ensure no one is approaching or following you and your vehicle before parking.
- As you exit the vehicle, be cautious of the surroundings and whether any obstructions, shrubbery or other vehicles are being used by hijackers to hide.
- Avoid sitting or sleeping in a parked vehicle. This can be incredibly dangerous without being aware and cognoscente of the environment you are in.
Entering, exiting and driving your vehicle:
- Always have your keys ready (but not visible) and inspect the inside and outside of the vehicle before locking and unlocking or entering it.
- Make sure no one is hiding inside the car,the windows are all intact and the doors are still locked.
- Know the route and your destination before leaving, drive with the windows closed and doors locked – and take note of where local police stations are.
- Always leave a vehicle length between you and the car in front of you to make a quick escape if needed.
- Avoid high-crime and unfamiliar areas and never ever pick up strangers and hitchhikers or stop for anyone other than law enforcement.
- Try to avoid travelling the same routes over and over again, try changing up your delivery routine regularly.
There are universal guidelines for hijack proofing a fleet and its vehicles but, every situation is different and will have unique requirements for drivers and fleet managers. The level of risk that vehicles and their drivers are exposed to can depend on the type of vehicle used, goods being transported, routes taken and protective systems installed. Fleet managers and drivers must coordinate with each other and their company to ensure their hijack-prevention strategies are up-to-date; keeping them as safe and hijack proof as possible.