Fatalities on the road ratchet up

December 21, 2022 0 By Cypher9ja

With the festive season getting underway and residents making their way to holiday destinations, multiple road accidents and deaths have been reported.

Over the weekend, an accident involving a minibus taxi and a truck left seven people dead in Podungwane, five others died in a crash in Amanzimtoti and seven people died in a crash on the N3 between Bergville and Tugela Plaza.

Automobile Association spokesperson Layton Beard said this period was dangerous as the increased traffic led to more crashes and fatalities.

Road accidents increase during festive season

Beard said statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) indicate there were 1 395 fatal crashes and 1 808 fatalities during the festive period from 1 December 2021 to 11 January 2022.

N1/N2 Bakwena toll spokesperson Charmaine van Wyk said between 15 and 18 December was the busiest period and there had been five crashes on the N1 and eight on the N4.

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Van Wyk said the Bakwena N1/N4 route was busy from 15 December to 18 December. They recorded the highest volume so far of 2 180 vehicles per hour through Pumulani over those three days. “Currently, the route is quiet, but we expect it to become busier on Friday and Saturday,” she said.

N3TC operations manager Thania Dhoogra said a steep rise in the number of public transport vehicle collisions was recorded during the previous festive season. “Crashes which included buses or minibus taxis were the highest recorded since 2017 [25% higher],” she said.

Dhoogra said in most cases, driver negligence was the cause of head-on crashes.

“Reckless driving, such as speeding and high-risk overtaking, driver fatigue, distractions and driver intoxication contribute to head-on crashes,” she said.

Dhoogra said N3TC’s crash data for the first 10 months of this year indicated that 79% of all light motor vehicle crashes and 85% of all truck crashes were due to driver ineptitude and negligence. “The majority [62%] were single-vehicle crashes where drivers lost control of their vehicles and the vehicles left the road or rolled. Many of these crashes could have been avoided,” she said.

Peak season

Dhoogra said peak volumes of above 2 200 vehicles per hour were recorded on 16 December, with southbound traffic volumes on the other days exceeding 1 500 vehicles per hour for most of the day.

Dhoogra said peak traffic conditions were expected southbound towards KwaZulu-Natal on the N3 toll route this week and again on 31 December, when holidaymakers were expected to return in high volumes in a northerly direction towards Gauteng.

Joburg Metro Police Department spokesperson Xolani Fihla said driving under the influence of alcohol was one of the major causes of accidents on the road. “In our efforts to fight or discourage drunken driving and reduce road fatalities, 155 motorists were detained at stations in Johannesburg,” he said.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said more than 2 000 motorists have been arrested nationwide for driving offences since the start of the festive season. He said statistics collected by RTMC showed 2 241 motorists have been arrested for offences including drunk driving, speeding, driving without licences and violation of permits.

“Law enforcement agencies have conducted more than 188 roadblocks in which

611 148 vehicles were stopped and checked. Over 100 960 traffic fines were issued.”

Zwane said more than 4 200 vehicles have since been disallowed from operating. “A total of 324 motorists were arrested for drunken driving. The highest alcohol level arrest was in Gauteng in Midrand. The suspect’s alcohol reading recorded 3.99mg/1 000ml,” he said.

Zwane said the highest speeding arrest was on 8 December on the N1 to Bloemfontein, Free State, where a motorist was driving at 191km/h. – marizkac@cypher9ja.co.za