Avoid these dangers on SA’s busiest holiday road in December
PROFESSIONAL drivers dread December, when amateur drivers take the long drive to the family or holiday destination, often driving faster and further than they do all year.
Wheels asked those in the know what causes the most problems on the N3, South Africa’s busiest holiday road.
Truckers’ pet hate
A few of the 6 600 truckers that pass the Mooi River Plaza each day told Wheels they can spot these holiday drivers in the far distance.
They are the drivers who are not going along with the traffic flow, instead going too fast or too slow for the situation, and often unable to cope with the different levels of difficulty on the N3.
Coming from the west, the trucks list the steep descends past Van Reenen’s, thick mist past Mooi River and average speed cameras as the three things amateur drivers seem unable to cope at the correct speed.
But KZN’s champion truck drivers, Moses Makhathini, Regi Naidoo and Alfred Ngilo all agree that drivers who race past a slow moving truck, only to brake hard in front of the truck, are the biggest pests on the road.
“Why try and be early for your death? Take it slow and enjoy the beautiful scenery,” said Makhathini.
Drunk drivers feared most
Motorists polled by the Automobile Association (AA) in a recent survey list drunk drivers, fast drivers and a lack of law enforcers as their biggest safety concerns on SA’s roads during the festive period.
The survey also found more than nine in 10 people feel unsafe while travelling on South African roads during December.
Six in 10 of the respondents see drunk drivers as the biggest problem on the country’s roads. Apart from speeding and a lack of law enforcers, the survey found that motorists believe unlicensed drivers also pose a major problem.
Asleep behind the wheel
Con Roux, commercial manager at the N3 Toll Concessionaire (N3TC), however said the statistics point to drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel as the biggest danger on the N3.
He said of the 915 crashes recorded between Heidelberg and Cedera by the N3TC over the past 10 months since January, 76,7% of crashes occurred in clear weather and over a third (381) involved passenger cars.
Of these 915 crashes, 224 crashes were vehicles rolling on a straight road, and 203 were vehicles that just veered off the road. “This suggests that fatigue and or inattention cause most of the accidents on the N3,” Roux said.
Roux advised holiday drivers to rotate driving duties every couple of hours. “Three hours’ driving is already too long. Stop every two hours and make the journey a part of the holiday. Don’t try to break speed records.”
Rather stop and start, taking photos for next year's competition during this festive season, he said. The competition can be entered on the N3TC website.
Get the latest route updates to help you avoid unexpected problems on your planned journey by following the N3TC on Twitter @N3Route. Contact the 24-hour N3TC Customer Care Line on 0800 63 4357 for any assistance, even fuel.
Spot the trucks passing in the middle lane. Thick mist make for difficult driving on the N3, but most accidents happen on clear days due to drivers falling asleep.