A large number of South Africans make use of public transport to get to and from their place of work every day and a local security company has compiled a list of safety tips which will hopefully help keep them safe during their daily commute.
In its latest National Household Travel Survey, Statistics South Africa puts the percentage of working South Africans (above the age of 15) who use public transport to reach their place of work, at an estimated 40%. [www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P0320/P03202013.pdf]
“As with most aspects of life, there are basic tips and suggestions that commuters should keep in mind in order to not fall prey to criminals while they are travelling on public transport,” said Theunis Kotze, ADT General Manager Inland Region.
- Make sure you know all the details of the route you are planning to use, and that you have enough money on you to pay for your journey. Many public transport services now make use of card payment systems in order to limit the amount of cash that is carried on board.
- In the same way that you would tell your loved ones if you are taking a walk or a hike in nature, also make sure that someone knows your planned journey’s details so that they can raise the alarm in case something goes wrong.
- Avoid dark areas. It is best to wait for your bus or taxi in an area that is well-lit, and where there are other people who would notice if something happened to you.
- Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instinct. Don’t fall asleep on the bus, and take note of any suspicious behaviour. If something feels wrong, rather disembark the vehicle if it is safe to do so.
- Keep your possessions close to you, so that you can be alerted immediately if something goes missing. It is best not to openly display any expensive items such as jewellery or electronic equipment.
- Many public transport vehicles have alarm or emergency buttons installed – make sure you know where the closest one to you is located, so that you can call for help in case of an emergency.
- A number of municipalities have set up dedicated law enforcement units for their public transport services, which also includes roving patrols on vehicles and at public transport interchanges. Keep their contact details pre-programmed on your mobile phone. Alternatively, keep the contact details for your local SAPS or private security company on speed dial.
- Pick the right seat. Try to sit close to the driver if possible, or take an aisle seat which will help prevent you from being cornered. It also allows you to be better aware of your surroundings.
- If possible, travel with a friend or a colleague. There is safety in numbers.
- Many private security companies have developed mobile panic buttons, which can be kept in your pocket and will transmit a distress signal in case of emergency. Ask your security company about the possible services they offer you as commuter.