Vehicle anti-theft devices – NOT on braking systems


South Africa’s automotive theft rates have resulted in many inventions to prevent vehicle theft and hijacking. Anti-hijacking devices have been developed in the past, and in ignorance of the law, such as a device that locks up trailer brakes when a truck tractor is disconnected from the trailer or vehicle combination.

The Regulations refer to an anti-theft device that ‘in any way interferes with a braking system.’ It follows that anti-hijacking devices working on the principle of cutting out an engine a minute or two after a hijacking are thus illegal on vehicles that rely on engine power to assist braking. This refers especially to vehicles equipped with air brakes which depend on an engine-mounted compressor for air pressure to operate the complete combination braking system.

All modern technology diesel engines are now electronically managed; remote interference with these engines is thus possible in a hijack situation. The safest counter-measure would be to reduce the vehicle to an engine idle mode that does not cut out engine power, continues to charge air pressure, and still preserves braking capacity. Passenger vehicles and bakkies may be proved in court to be lacking in braking ability after a remotely controlled engine cut-out.

Regulation 149 A applies to all vehicles – not just trucks. Fleet managers, maintenance technicians, and investors must take note of this.

Road Traffic Regulations - Reg 149 A, in particular – state that anti-theft devices connected to braking systems are prohibited, Vehicles registered on or after 1 July 1990 may not be fitted with any type of anti-theft device connected to, or that in any way interferes with a braking system.