Avoid th­ese dan­gers on SA’s busiest hol­i­day road in De­cem­ber

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - ALWYN VILJOEN

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.

Im­por­tant num­bers

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.

PHOTO: ALWYN VILJOEN

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.

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