MAHIN­DRA OPENS SKD FA­CIL­ITY IN DUR­BAN

SAFELY NE­GO­TI­ATE A DAN­GER­OUS IN­TER­SEC­TION

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by ASHREF IS­MAIL | Im­age © IS­TOCK­PHOTO.COM

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.

MULTI-FACETED IN­CI­DENT

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.

RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY OF

ALL DRIV­ERS

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

GREY AR­EAS.”

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.

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