MAHINDRA OPENS SKD FACILITY IN DURBAN
SAFELY NEGOTIATE A DANGEROUS INTERSECTION
Mahindra joins the SA manufacturing league
It was at Fields Hill, Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, when in September 2013, a runaway truck collided with five other vehicles, four of which were minibus taxis, ferrying hapless victims home after work. ASHREF ISMAIL considers how dangerous intersections can be, and what you can do to negotiate them safely.
The Fields Hill incident, in which 22 people tragically lost their lives, was later described by paramedics and rescue personnel as one of the worst accident scenes in the history of the KwaZulu-Natal province.
A then 24-year-old Swazi national, who allegedly only had a fraudulently-obtained driving license, with no professional driving permit, was driving an unroadworthy vehicle. With far too little experience to control the vehicle that he was piloting, the driver lost control of the more than forty-tonne truck, when the brakes ‘failed’ sending the heavy vehicle careening down the hill and into a line of vehicles that had just started driving off at a green traffic light.
There are so many different aspects surrounding this event that a textbook was written covering everything from corruption, excessive speeding, vehicle fitness, fatigue, excessive loading, lack of experience and, importantly, inadequate driver training. It was then given to all road safety practitioners.
We can look at it from any angle; be it the truck driver that is believed to have caused the mayhem, or the five ‘innocent’ drivers.
What we can learn from the incident, and something that any reputable advanced driver training institution will teach you, is that the law regarding intersections is unambiguous — there are no grey areas.
Simply put, it states that you are allowed to enter an intersection at a safe and legal speed given the traffic light is green, or amber should you have already crossed the threshold of the intersection. Most importantly, however– and this can’t be emphasised enough – only when it is safe to do so.
This last part, though, is often argued in court and is used to get culprits off the hook. Think about the Field’s Hill crash; did the drivers of the four vehicles take off when the light was green?
“SOMETHING THAT ANY REPUTABLE ADVANCED DRIVER TRAINING INSTITUTION WILL TEACH YOU, IS THAT THE LAW REGARDING INTERSECTIONS IS UNAMBIGUOUS. THERE ARE NO
Video footage captured by a dash-cam indicates that none of the five vehicles ‘jumped’ the light and only proceeded to cross the intersection as the light turned green.
Next question: did they enter the intersection when ‘it was safe to do so’?
It now becomes clear that if any of the five drivers had just turned their heads to check if it was safe to cross the intersection, they would have seen the juggernaut barrelling down on them.
This story could have had a dramatically different ending.
Intersections, and especially South African intersections with our atrocious road safety record, are deadly. A green light doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to cross; it is up to you to determine that.