Driver safety in emergency situations
During the past couple of months, the South African transport and logistics industry has been rocked by incidents of violence against truck drivers and spates of trucks being set alight during incidents of public unrest.
Trucks and their cargo are destroyed across the country by assailants whose modus operandi ranges from firebombing the trucks from the side of the road to stationary trucks at toll gates coming under attack. One thing that remains painfully clear is the disregard for the property of transport and logistics operators and the cargo being ferried on behalf of
clients and even more so, the impending danger it places every truck driver on the road under.
Having visibility on your fleet while they are on the road is tantamount to improving the safety of both driver and vehicle.
Technology such as in-cab/ onboard cameras and panic buttons are becoming prerequisite to providing fleet managers and drivers with the tools to improve the safe arrival of both driver, vehicle and cargo.
Considering that the threat is not only evident during periods of unrest, it is necessary to educate drivers and their employers about What to do in Emergency Situations.
If in an accident or emergency and not possible to get out immediately:
· Unlock the doors and windows. Do whatever you can to accomplish this critical step.
· Even if you cannot open the door yourself, unlocking the doors will give bystanders or rescuers a good shot of getting you out of the burning vehicle quickly. Press your panic button!
· Get your seat belt off. This must be done quickly so the heat of the fire does not fuse the metal of the buckle to its anchor.
· Here are safety suggestions to follow when your vehicle is smoking/ on fire:
· Stay as calm as you can. The worst possible thing that you can do is panic. Panic will cause you to waste precious seconds and make mistakes that could end up being tragic.
· Press your panic button.
· If the vehicle is moving, signal and move to the side of the road.
· Turn off the ignition to shut off the electric current and stop the flow of fuel.
· Put the vehicle in park or set the emergency brake; you don't want the vehicle to move after your leave it.
· Do not waste time and increase your risk by removing personal belongings.
· Move at least 30 meters away. Keep traffic in mind and keep everyone together. There is not only danger from the fire, but also from other vehicles moving in the area.
· If possible, keep onlookers and others away.
· Do not go back into a burning vehicle
· Warn oncoming traffic.
· Notify emergency services from a safe distance
If in an emergency where your life is in immediate danger/ hijacking:
· Do not lose your temper, threaten, or challenge the assailant(s).
· REMAIN CALM!
· Activate the panic button (if installed) on your vehicle as discreetly as possible.
· DO EXACTLY AS TOLD BY THE ASSAILANTS!
· Do not resist, especially if the assailant(s) has a weapon. Surrender your vehicle and move away. Try to put as much distance between yourself and the assailants(s) as speedily as possible.
· Do not reach for your wallet, cell phone or valuables. Leave everything in the vehicle.
· Try to always remain calm and do not show signs of aggression.
· Do not make eye contact with the assailants. They may perceive this behaviour as a threat and retaliate aggressively.
· Keep your hands still and visible to the assailant(s), to give them assurance of your passive content.
· Do not speak too fast (if you are able to talk) and do not make sudden movements.
· Gather as much information as possible without posing a threat.
· How many people?
· How many firearms and description thereof?
· What were the perpetrators wearing (clothing)?
· To which direction did they drive off?
· Take note of the language they use (the accent).
· Activate the vehicle tracking device if the vehicle is fitted with one.