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The N1 highway is Joburg’s most dangerous road, with more than 16 000 accidents and 116 deaths having occurred on it in four years.
And speed is still its number one killer.
Statistics from the Johannesburg metropolitan police department (JMPD) indicate that the most serious accidents on the highway – on the stretch of road from the Shell garage on Samrand Road in Midrand to the Grasmere toll plaza – happen between 1am and 3am.
Overall, there have been 16 347 accidents on the N1 since 2008. The worst intersection for accidents is the Allandale Road offramp in Midrand.
Last year, 178 accidents were recorded on the south-bound intersection. In 2009, at the same intersection, 312 accidents were recorded on its south-bound ramp. This dropped to 240 accidents in 2010.
On that stretch of the N1 last year, there were 3431 accidents; the death toll was 35.
The most recent JMPD records show that between November 19 and February 23, there were 10 serious accidents on the N1 north and south. In those accidents 10 people died.
THE MAIN PROBLEM
The JMPD’s co-ordinating inspector for speed enforcement, Sergeant Dennis Busch, told The Star that the main problems on the N1 were speeding, motorists changing lanes unsafely, and failing to adapt to the weather.
“And speed and drunk driving go hand in hand. The public does not seem to understand that speed kills,” said Busch.
“If you are not trained to drive at 260km/h and you have a blowout, the damage is going to be major.” He added that highways were far more dangerous than suburban roads.
He said the N1 was only one of Joburg’s 10 most accident-prone roads, where there have been close to 50 000 accidents since 2008.
Taxis and buses remain the biggest concern for law enforcement agencies, together with pedestrians crossing highways instead of using bridges.
More than half of the accidents involving pedestrians occur on freeways.
Busch said that through intensive law enforcement and visible policing, the JMPD had brought down the number of fatalities in Joburg.
An example of this was the recent arrest on Beyers Naudé Drive of a motorist coming from Stones nightclub in Cresta, caught driving at 200km/h in a 60km/h zone around 9pm.
CLOCKED AT 245KM/H
Yet that was not the worst speeding incident in recent months, as the JMPD’s high speed unit caught a Mercedes-Benz SL500 on the N1 North, near the Engen garage at the Grasmere plaza, driving at 245km/h.
ER24 spokeswoman Vanessa Jackson said that since the N1 was changed, with concrete barriers erected in the middle of the highway and speed cameras installed, there had been far fewer fatalities on the N1. The JMPD deserved some credit, she said.
Netcare 911 spokesman Jeff Wicks said the frequency of accidents on the N1 meant that the rescue service kept its vehicles posted on the highway during peak hours.
“It is the busiest and does have the highest flow of traffic. It’s also a freeway, so there is an amount of high speed travel allowed. If you add those two, you have a dangerous cocktail. Accidents on the N1 always have the potential of fatalities,” he pointed out.
Busch said that while there were fixed cameras on accident-prone roads, other measures were used, such as roadblocks, routine checks and mobile speed cameras.
“We mix these up so that people do not expect speed traps at a particular place. For the rest we believe that motorists must start disciplining themselves,” he said. -The Star