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Monthly national crime data reveals that murder and serious assault increase by as much as 50% during December each year. SA’s roads are no different. The perennial year-end death toll spike hits news headlines on cue each festive period.

According to the World Health Organisation, worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million people are killed in road crashes each year and as many as 50 million are injured. Projections indicate that these figures will increase by about 65% over the next 20 years unless there is new commitment to prevention.

The World Bank estimates that, if fatality rates per vehicle in poorer countries were reduced by 30% by 2020, more than 2.5 million lives could be saved and 200 million injuries avoided.

These objectives can be achieved through tighter legislation and harsher punitive measures. However, improved human behaviour, especially during holiday times, still holds the key.

Mark Smith, Customer Centricity Manager at Tracker says, “The increase in year-end vehicle risk often has to do with people being in ‘holiday mode’ and out of their normal routines. We tell our customers that this is the time when you should be even more aware on the roads. Make certain that you at least know the basic emergency telephone numbers and location of the nearest police station.”

According to the National Hijack Prevention Academy, it is vital to be as prepared as possible if hijacked while on holiday. Not being familiar with road names, areas and directions makes it more difficult evade a potentially dangerous situation and to recall crucial information for authorities. Every effort should be made to familiarise yourself with your surroundings as best you can.

Preventative GPS safety technology can alleviate the stress of holiday travellers adjusting to a new environment.

Smith explains, “Vehicle tracking functionality reduces the risk of not knowing a particular area very well. Additionally, drivers can set safe zones even when on holiday. These are geo-fenced areas that can be created, edited and monitored.”

“By assigning a zone to your holiday vehicle you can preemptively manage the security of your vehicle and its occupants. The moment a vehicle goes outside of its safe zone or enters an area determined to be high risk, a notification will be sent by SMS.”

With most of the country away from their homes on holiday and not familiar with their surroundings the usual responses to stressful situations must be reconsidered. Being a victim of crime while away from home can often be even more distressing than in an environment you are familiar with.