Hundreds dead in Easter road carnage

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IOL mot pic apr22 st sec muldersdrift

Independent Newspapers

This Mercedes-Benz is barely recognisable after crashing into a bridge pillar on the N14 at the weekend. Picture: Haloaviations

Johannesburg - It no longer looked like the luxury car it once was. The Mercedes-Benz was reduced to a pile of twisted scrap-metal after it slammed into a bridge pillar at high speed on the N14 highway outside Muldersdrift on Sunday.

The driver was critically injured after being ejected from the car.

But when paramedics peered into the wreckage, they found the speedometer still intact, its needle pointing at 260km/h - the speed they presumed the car was travelling at when it crashed.

The speeding Mercedes was just one of many crashes over the Easter weekend, but the death toll on our roads was due to be revealed only on Tuesday.

On Monday the Road Traffic Management Corporation had not finished tallying the accident statistics, but was able to reveal that up until the end of Saturday night, there had already been 103 fatalities in 80 crashes around the country.

As usual, the highways leading into Gauteng were busy, with thousands of residents returning from Easter holidays.

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The speedometer of the Mercedes that crashed on the N14 near Muldersdrift. The driver was critically injured after being flung out of the vehicle. Picture: Haloaviations

The Department of Community Safety in Gauteng said the freeways continued to be congested.

The SA National Roads Agency said the crashes would continue until motorists’ behaviour was addressed.

Sanral road safety manager Elna Fourie said on Monday: “Until a number of road safety issues have been addressed, we can expect the carnage, specifically around holiday seasons, to continue.”

She said Sanral’s planned road safety event at the University of Pretoria on Tuesday would see a number of South Africans pledging responsible behaviour.

These included drivers not texting or drinking while driving, and avoiding speeding.

in 2013 a total of 201 fatal crashes were recorded during the Easter break in which 241 people had died. This was a rise on the year before, when 217 people lost their lives.

Then transport minister Ben Martins announced in 2013 that many of the victims were pedestrians, but it was still unclear if the same had occurred this year.

More than 79 000 fines were issued over Easter last year, 1039 licences suspended and 1024 vehicles impounded, while 864 motorists were arrested for drunk driving.

Focus on public transport as KZN holidaymakers head home

Meanwhile, public transport became the main focus of roadblocks around KwaZulu-Natal as holidaymakers made their way back home on Monday.

KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Willies Mchunu said although there had been a slight decline in fatalities by Monday, compared with 2013, deaths on the road were still a great concern.

The latest figures showed there had been 31 deaths reported on KwaZulu-Natal’s roads so far, compared with36 in 2013.

Roadblocks were conducted on both the N2 and the N3, while a Mariannhill roadblock targeted minibus taxis. Mchunu said most of them had roadworthiness issues.

“All the time, there is a roadblock, they run away.”

He said the top speed recorded on the N3 freeway had been 208km/h.

About 3100 vehicles passed through the Mariannhill toll plaza per hour at peak times on Monday - about 1600 heading away from Durban and 1500 towards the coast.

On Monday 16 people were injured on the North Coast in a collision involving a minibus, which reportedly overturned on the N2 north-bound.

Emergency Medical Services spokesman Robert Mckenzie said the patients had been taken to Ngwelezane hospital.

MINIBUS CRASHES

In an accident on the R56, near the Umkomaas valley, a car collided with a minibus, leaving three people fighting for their lives.

He also said EMS paramedics had responded to a crash on the Wasbank Road outside Dundee on Monday afternoon, in which a minibus with 12 people on board had overturned. One of the passengers died while eight sustained serious injuries and were taken to Dundee hospital.

ER24 said three people sustained moderate injuries when their vehicle overturned on the N3 north, between Estcourt and Mooi toll plaza, on Monday afternoon, while 16 people were injured when a minibus taxi overturned in the Uthungulu area near Richards Bay.

Four people were injured when a vehicle overturned on the N3 north near the Nottingham Road off-ramp.

Chris Botha of Netcare said a four-year-old-child sustained critical injuries while another child and two women had been seriously injured.

Free State transport spokesman Saki Mohono said five people, including a child, had been killed in a head-on collision on the N1 outside Ventersburg early on Monday.

“The driver of a Mazda tried to overtake at high speed and rammed into an oncoming Renault carrying four people,” he said

The Star, The Mercury and Sapa


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