Weekend of horror crashes on SA roads

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Independent Newspapers

Aftermath: One person was seriously injured after these vehicles collided near the Barry Marais off-ramp on the N3 as traffic volumes increased with the return of holidaymakers to Gauteng. Image: Wesley Fester.

The carnage on South African roads was unrelenting at the weekend, with six people dying in one accident in the Free State alone.

The confirmed death toll for December 2013 is 1184 and updated statistics are set to be released on Tuesday.

As thousands of holidaymakers returned from KwaZulu-Natal to their respective provinces on Sunday, transport officials, along with KZN’s Transport Department head, Sibusiso Gumbi, conducted a roadblock at the Mariannhill Toll Plaza.

Gumbi said the move was motivated by the department’s initiative to make traffic officials more visible on KZN roads.

“We have been working hard since October, but due to the festive season the number of cars double on our roads and we need twice as many officials to work,” he said.

They had officially planned to stop 107 000 cars coming into the province, but had long gone over the set amount.

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A roadblock was conducted at the Mariannhill toll plaza on Sunday. Image: Jacques Naud�

Independent Newspapers

He said that so far the most offences were for speeding, followed by people driving without licences.

“We’ve seen a drop in cases of drunken drivers compared with previous years. We believe drivers are conforming more due to our campaigns, where we have played accident videos at major events,” he said.

THE CARNAGE CONTINUES

Meanwhile accidents continued throughout the country.

In the Free State accident, six people were killed in a head-on collision on the N1 near Edenburg, about 90km from Bloemfontein, on Saturday night. The cause of the accident is being investigated.

Netcare 911 paramedics and emergency services arrived at the scene and found the road severely obstructed with accident debris consistent with a high-impact collision. Some of the injured were still trapped in the wreckages.

Five adults and a baby had died before medics arrived. Four others were in a critical condition, while two escaped with minor injuries, Netcare spokesman Chris Botha said.

In a separate incident, three others, including a child, died when a vehicle overturned on the N3 about 20km from Warden in the direction of Joburg yesterday.

Netcare 911 paramedics found the crumpled remains of a Chevy Spark and accident debris obstructing the highway. Five of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle while one man was still trapped in the twisted metal.

DODGY BUSES

Meanwhile, Sapa reports that seven buses were impounded in the Free State on Saturday for violating permit and vehicle fitness laws.

“Some operators allow their drivers to drive defective vehicles and (buses) without proper documents such as operating licences and roadworthy certificates,” provincial Transport Department spokesman Saki Mohono said.

He said such behaviour was unacceptable because it put the lives of passengers in danger.

THE BIG CAUSES

Major contributory factors to crashes are dangerous overtaking, driver fatigue, excessive speed, and drinking and driving.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters urged motorists to obey traffic rules and road signs, get enough rest and not to overtake when it is unsafe to do so or to drink and drive or walk.

“It is therefore of great concern to us that our education and enforcement messages fall short of reaching every road user. The picture we have of fatal crashes on our roads is scary, to say the least,” she said at the start of the festive season. -The Star and Mercury


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