Johannesburg - As Gauteng schools break for a week-long holiday, the N3 Toll Concession is expecting a huge increase in traffic heading to Durban from noon on Friday.
The N3TC has expressed its concern that reckless driving continues to rank as one of the top causes of motor vehicle crashes on the N3.
The top contributory factors to crashes on the route from January to August 2016 indicate that human behavior remains the top cause of crashes and that 65 percent of all crashes were caused by human error, said Miles le Roux, transport engineer at the N3TC.
This constitutes a number of aggressive or dangerous driving techniques such as tailgaiting, speeding, ignoring traffic control measures, swerving between lanes, general impatience, annoyance and intolerance towards other road users, or any deliberate actions which are likely to increase the risk of collisions.
“Reckless drivers often commit a number of traffic offenses posing a danger to themselves and other persons sharing the road with them. It is worrying to note how many drivers, especially at peak times such as school holidays, become impatient in traffic and as a result adopt unsafe driver behaviour, disregard safety and violate traffic laws,” he said.
The N3TC manages the N3 toll route between Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg in Gauteng, and monitors all incidents and crashes along the route. Data is collected and analysed and additional road safety measures are implemented where appropriate.
Le Roux said 713 crashes were recorded on the N3 between January and August 2016.
41.5 percent of these crashes were single, light motor vehicle crashes, with 42.6 percent of all fatalities recorded during this period being from single-vehicle crashes.
21.7 percent of crashes during the same period were caused by single, heavy motor vehicles, with 11.5 percent of the total number of fatalities recorded in these crashes.
“The general attitude of South African drivers remains poor," said Le Roux. "The majority of crashes on the N3 are due to human behavior and errors of judgement. Generally, it seems drivers show little respect for themselves, other road users and the law. They seem to be proud of breaking the law and getting away with it.”
The dominant types of crashes on the N3 during the first part of 2016 were:
Vehicles rolling – 23.8 percent
Vehicles leaving the road – 22.0 percent
Head tail (moving and stationary vehicles) – 14.4 percent
“Drivers need to be aware of just how dangerous driving actually is," Le Roux warned. "They're often not skilled enough for the speeds and conditions they encounter on the road. If we truly want to overcome our road safety challenges, drivers will have to take responsibility for their actions and change their behavior.”
The N3TC works in close cooperation with the various law enforcement agencies along the route to implement various interventions in an attempt to enhance the safety of all road users. These include speed over distance monitoring, road blocks, alcohol and drug screening tests, and providing specialised training for law enforcement agencies.
During various road safety operations, it was noted that many drivers intentionally removed their number plates in order to transgress the law without getting caught.
N3TC also operates a Route Control Centre that manages all incidents along the route and provides traffic and route updates and assistance to stranded road users between Heidelberg and Cedara. It also manages the N3 Incident database which is currently the only database of its kind in South Africa.
“It enables us to identify hotspots along the toll route," explained Le Roux, "and gives a better understanding of the type of incidents and how to manage and mitigate these. Without proper data it is near impossible to know which resources are required where, and how to intervene to ensure overall improved road safety. But, despite our best efforts, real change will only be achieved if individual drivers and vehicle owners also make road safety their utmost priority.”
Other expected peak traffic periods during the September/October school holiday:
Saturday 1 October 1: Southbound towards KwaZulu-Natal from 6am to 12 noon
Sunday 9 October 9: Northbound towards Gauteng from 11am to 10pm.
The risk of uncontrolled fires also remains high. Extremely dry conditions are still being experienced along the N3 which increases the risk of of destructive veld fires.
“We appeal to road users to take every precautionary measure to limit the risk of veld fires," said Le Roux. "With high winds and under these dry conditions, veld fires occur quickly and spread rapidly over vast areas causing great danger to life and property.”
Motorists should immediately report any unattended fires and/or smoke along or near the N3 to the 24-hour RCC on 0800 63 4357 (0800 N3 HELP), or Twitter: @N3Route.
Follow Anna Cox on Twitter: @annacox.