These five tips will help fleet drivers safely avoid a carjacking.

These five tips will help fleet drivers safely avoid a carjacking.

Screenshot via Team O'Neil Rally School.

The difference between a car theft and a carjacking is that with the latter a driver can experience bodily harm. Thieves are having a more challenging time breaking into vehicles due to today's security systems, which may be one of the reasons carjackings are on the rise. For example, in Chicago alone, there were three times as many carjackings in 2017 than in 2014.

Make sure your fleet drivers are aware of the dangers of carjacking, and know what to do to avoid the situation.

Experts offer the following advice:

Keep Your Vehicle Road-Ready and Clean

Always make sure your fuel tank is at least half full, there is air in the tires, and your seating position, mirrors and lights provide ample visibility. You want to be confident that in the event you sense a possible encounter with a carjacker, your vehicle will readily start-up and you can drive away at a good clip. In addition, keep your vehicle clean — that is, free of decals, stickers and anything flashy that attracts attention. Always store laptops and other valuables in the trunk — otherwise you are inviting trouble.

Plan Ahead

To avoid carjacking incidents, make sure you plan ahead. Think through routes, avoiding bad neighborhoods whenever possible. Park your vehicle in a well-lit area. Make sure your cell phone is charged and nearby in the event you need to call for help.

Get Moving and Keep Moving

When you get into your vehicle, be ready to start up the engine and drive off. Don't wait for the GPS to load or the car to heat up. If someone is lurking around, any delay before driving gives them exactly what they need — a distracted driver they can catch off guard. In just a few split seconds you could be the victim of a carjacking.  Once you are on the road, if you sense someone dangerous approaching you at a stop sign or a traffic light, keep moving — even if means violating a traffic law. Your life is more important.

Outsmart the Carjackers

Follow the news to stay aware of carjacking techniques. Two of latest include the "bump and grab" and the gas station carjack. With the he bump and grab, essentially you are driving along and suddenly get rear-ended. As you pull over and exit your vehicle to exchange information, several people jump out of the car behind you and into yours — speeding away with your vehicle.

Gas station carjackings are another common occurrence. Take a few steps to avoid being an easy target. First, make sure you look around and assess the people onsite before getting out of your vehicle, never leave your door open or the keys in the car, and don't stand between the fuel pump and your vehicle because this boxes you in — making it easier for a carjacker to snatch your vehicle.

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