Durban - It was all out war on the roads on Friday as authorities resorted to extreme measures to curb the Easter holiday death toll, with undercover cops looking to catch drivers offering bribes, and hi-tech helicopters on standby to help in rescue missions.
Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Simon Zwane confirmed “undercover anti-corruption officers have been deployed to deal with bribery”. He said traffic officers would maintain high visibility on all national routes and at high accident zones where roving road blocks and roadworthiness tests for all vehicles would be set up at strategic points.
Officers will also be on the lookout for drivers speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and illegal activity.
Operations were intensified last weekend in preparation. A motorcyclist was caught driving at 227km/h in Park Rynie, on the south coast.
Zwane said implementing traffic plans two weeks prior to this weekend may lead to fewer deaths. “There has been a marked decline in the number of deaths on the road in the week leading to Easter. Deaths in KwaZulu-Natal this week are standing at 11 compared with 27 in the same period last year.”
On Friday, KZN Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo confirmed two high-tech helicopters would be on call. Crews would be equipped with night-vision goggles.
“We want to drastically cut deaths. Besides these helicopters, we have deployed emergency medical teams to all high-accident areas, and rescue vehicles that are equipped with high-tech equipment which has the capacity to remove material or cut metal parts to access a trapped patient.
“The rationale is to provide assistance in the golden hour the accident has happened.”
Last night, the provincial road traffic inspectorate’s Zinhle Mngomezulu, said high volumes of traffic had been recorded coming into the province with a peak of 2 000 vehicles an hour.
The MEC for transport, community safety and liaison, Willies Mchunu was at the launch of the Easter road safety campaign at the Oribi N2 toll plaza, near Port Shepstone on Thursday.
This included highlighting the safety of all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. The family of cyclist Burry Stander, who was knocked over and killed in 2013, joined the MEC.
Mchunu said, “We regard bribery as a serious crime by officers and the people who are bribing officers. We have an enforcement unit which has been dealing with, in particular, fraudulent driving licences.
By Friday night, there had been a number of accidents, including two deaths when a car left the N2 near Richards Bay and hit a truck. On Friday afternoon, a vehicle overturned on the N2 South, near Inanda Road. One man sustained life-threatening injuries, another moderate injuries.
A 14-year-old boy died and the driver was seriously injured in a crash in Park Rynie on Thursday.