The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has urged road users to err on the side of caution while travelling this Easter weekend.
Vusi Mona, the agency’s general manager for communications, said that the group has already seen some crashes prior to the long weekend even starting.
“While this is not a good start, it should be a wake-up call to road users to do the right thing and make that one decision that can save a life,” said Mona.
Sanral said that around Easter, there is a significant increase in traffic volumes across national roads. Traffic officials, alongside other law enforcement bodies, have subsequently ramped up in preparation for the worst.
South Africa has an unfortunate history of racking up fatalities due to driving accidents during the holiday period. Last year April, there were 162 recorded travel-related deaths over the Easter period.
The Western Cape, as a popular tourist destination, accounted for the highest number of road fatalities last year’s Easter period, followed by Gauteng, Mpumlanaga, KwaZulu0Natal and the Eastern Cape.
According to statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), more than 2,500 people have died on South African roads over the Easter period in the last decade.
Sanral has highlighted the following roads as likely sore points for travel:
- N4 eastbound: It will be busy, as it not only links Gauteng to Mpumalanga, but the corridor is a link to Mozambique and Eswatini.
- N3 from Gauteng to KZN: is another hugely popular holiday route that will see many people head to the coast for the Easter break and school holidays.
- N1 North and the N2 up the Garden Route and into the Eastern Cape: These are likely to be extremely busy in both directions and road users are requested to proceed with caution, courtesy and a realisation that roads are a shared space, for all roads users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
Law enforcement agencies are ramping up their monitoring of the busy freeways across the country.
“Operators are already detecting and responding to incidents in under three minutes – a critical time when every second counts to save a life,” said Sanral.
The primary situations of fatalities are fatigue and drunken driving.
Sanral said that to best protect against accidents, motorists should stay alert, observe road rules and take regular breaks every two hours or 200kms.
The Automobile Association (AA) said that traffic law enforcement can only do so much, and if road users don’t play their role in ensuring their own safety, they compromise the efforts of traffic law enforcement.
Keeping your vehicle in good mechanical condition, checking tyres (including the spare) and ensuring that all windscreen wipers work are a handful of preparatory steps that can make driving safer, said the AA.
On top of these best practices, the association provided more:
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Don’t text and drive.
- Rest before you travel. Do not drive if you are tired. Stop every two hours or 200 kilometres to stretch and get fresh air.
- Do not use electronic devices while driving. Use cell phones only when needed in an emergency.
- Ensure everyone in the vehicle wears a seatbelt (front and back).
- Drive to the conditions of the road. The indicated speed limit is not a target.
- Do not overtake when it is unsafe to do so, and respect and obey the road markings which indicate when you may or may not pass other vehicles.
- If you are a cyclist riding a motorbike or a pedestrian, make yourself visible and ensure your protective clothing is in good condition.
- Ride and walk where it is safe to do so.
- Ensure you are properly protected with access to a security panic device or an app on your phone you can activate if needed.
- Respect traffic law enforcement; they are there to ensure your and other road users’ safety.
- Enjoy your drive and arrive safely at your destination.