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A tonne of driving skills

The Sunday Times published an article this weekend on the increasing purchase of armoured vehicles by South Africans. Buying one of these vehicles is a valid decision for many according to a report compiled by the Global Initiative against Organised Crime. In 2022, there were at least 140 targeted murders in the country. Added to this are deaths and injury as a result of car jackings going wrong.

A tonne of driving skills

The CEO of MasterDrive says the growth of suppliers of these vehicles and continued growth in buyers is testament to their demand. “If you can afford these vehicles or have higher risk of falling victim to crime, it is not as simple as purchasing your own armoured vehicle, climbing behind the wheel and driving off.

“Driving a vehicle that is armoured is different to driving the unarmoured equivalent of that vehicle. It requires a specialised approach and understanding of how a vehicle is affected by the extra weight and then incorporating this into your driving to become a competent and confident driver – not just in your vehicle’s safety but your ability to drive that vehicle as well.”

There are several effects resulting from the extra weight. “It affects both under and oversteer, braking needs to be undertaken more slowly, ABS functioning changes, acceleration takes more effort, drivers need to plan earlier for overtaking, merging or other manoeuvres.

“Handling and dynamic performance of the vehicle is now different along with emergency lane changes and loss of control and the ability to regain it. In addition to these changes experienced while driving, armoured vehicles can even affect one while stationary.”

Getting into your new or rented armoured vehicle can be simple if you know what to expect. “Understanding how a particular vehicle responds when armoured will significantly impact not only your safety from criminals but your road safety as well. Consequently, MasterDrive developed a bespoke training programme that caters for this growing demand.

“Safety on the road needs a comprehensive approach that considers every risk. Drivers cannot take major steps to protect themselves and their families from one risk if that can considerably increase their risk in another aspect. Thus, the purchase of every armoured vehicle should not be done without making sure one has the skills to handle that vehicle competently,” says Herbert.

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Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa
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