RUNNING RIOT: With riots affecting motorists in SA, we list important steps road users should take to ensure their safety on our roads. Image: iStock
Cape Town - In June 2016, News24 reported on violent protests affecting Tshwane.
Finding yourself at the centre of civil unrest in South Africa while behind the wheel of your car is not something many people think of.
Sadly, many drivers in Tshwane have been affected by traffic delays due to ongoing protests.
It pays to be prepared warns the Automobile Association (AA).
The Association says the first, and most important action, is to avoid these areas as far as possible: “If you are aware of unrest near to you, monitor media and social media, listen to radio reports and traffic updates, and, if you have it, use the live update function on your GPS device to steer clear of these areas.
"The best way not to become part of any unrest situation is to not be there in the first place."
Johan Jonck, editor of Arrive Alive, says: "Safety always starts with planning, so if you are aware of trouble in an area and it is not absolutely essential to travel, rather delay your journey or find alternate routes."
Many motorists were caught unaware by recent civil unrest in SA. What should you do as a road user?
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The South African Police Service advises motorists to be vigilant at all times, and, if you need to, "engage with the protesters to let them know you pose no threat" and are merely trying to pass through.
Follow News24 for updates on the civil unrest in SA.
Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng, SAPS Gauteng Provincial spokesperson, said: “It’s important that anyone driving in an area that may be affected by unrest understands that the SAPS will most probably have blocked off a road to prevent entry. Listen to the police, and don’t put yourself in any danger by disobeying them.
"If you are in this situation, though, check for possible escape routes you can use, or for a police presence that you can approach for assistance."
Jonck adds: "There are lots of info on social media from major news sites (on civil unrest), but just keep in mind that there will always be the uninformed or malicious person trying to spread panic - so cross check warnings between various sources."
READ: Stuck in Jozi chaos - Top 10 tips for beating traffic jams
What you should do: List by the AA
• Stay in your vehicle as long as possible. Make sure your windows are closed and doors locked
• Unbuckle your seatbelt, and those of any passengers, to be prepared to exit your car quickly.
• Keep your car moving as much as possible, whilst checking for possible escape routes.
• Do not harm any protesters with your vehicle as this may turn the mob against you.
• Do not taunt the protesters by shouting, gesticulating or hooting at them.
• Remain as calm as possible to ensure you are aware of what is going on around you.
• Seek assistance or safety from the police as quickly as you can. If you do not see the police, call them.
• Obey police instructions.
• Leave your car only if the situation becomes life-threatening and get out of the area on foot. Your life is more valuable than your possessions.
• Once you are safe (with or without your vehicle) contact family or friends to let them know where you are, and what is happening.
Have you been affected by violent protests? Have you experienced civil unrest on our roads? Share your experience with Wheels24!
Covered by insurance
When you are safely away from the unrest situation, you may find that your car has sustained damage. If you have insurance you may be covered.
READ: Car insurance in SA - 'A necessity, not a luxury'
South African Special Risks Association Limited (SARIA) is included in all comprehensive policies and covers you for “any accidental or intentional damage to your property caused by any person or group of persons taking part in a riot, strike, lock-out, public disorder or civil commotion or committing any act that has a political, social or economic aim, objective or cause or that is in protest against any state or government.
"This cover is limited to circumstances occurring only in South Africa.”
For more information on Insurance Driven by the AA, click here.
The AA concludes: “It is always important to be aware, to be careful, and to be safe. If you are in a situation beyond your control, get out as quickly possible, and get assistance if you need it."