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Eight die in head-on crash as holiday traffic spikes on major routes

03 January 2021 - 12:10 By TimesLIVE
Motorists were urged to be cautious as heavy traffic is expected on major routes as people head home after the holidays. File photo.
Motorists were urged to be cautious as heavy traffic is expected on major routes as people head home after the holidays. File photo.
Image: Supplied/N3TC

Traffic volumes were expected to increase substantially on Sunday as holidaymakers return home — having to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, congestion, accidents, poor weather and the 9pm curfew.

 “The combination of high volumes, congestion, adverse weather, traffic disruptions and a national curfew can have a debilitating impact on road safety. Road users are requested to carefully plan their trips to allow for extra travel time and not to rush to their destinations at the last minute to try to beat the curfew,” said N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) operations manager Thania Dhoogra.

N3TC warned travellers to expect “very busy traffic conditions” exceeding 2,000 vehicles an hour in a northbound direction, towards Gauteng, on Sunday.

Motorists experienced heavy delays when the N3 was closed on Saturday evening after a serious crash involving six vehicles in heavy rain.

SABC news reported that eight people were killed and three others seriously injured. Department of roads and transport spokesperson Hillary Mophete told the broadcaster that a vehicle was travelling southbound and five other vehicles travelling north when the head-on collision occurred.

“It is alleged that the Jetta lost control, veered to the northbound [lanes] and collided with all five vehicles. All occupants of the Polo Vivo and four others from the Jetta lost their lives. A total of eight people died on the scene. One female and seven males died while three people escaped the crash with serious injuries while one escaped with minor injuries.”

Heavy traffic was also expected on other major routes, including the N4 from Mpumalanga, N1 from Limpopo and N2 from the North West.

N3TC urged motorists not to travel if they were ill or experiencing flu-like symptoms.

“Do not travel if you, or any of your travel companions, are feeling unwell, present with flu-like symptoms, or have been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. In this instance, it is essential to postpone your travel plans and follow the guidelines with regards to self-isolation or quarantining as may be required,” it said in a statement and offered tips for safe travel during the second wave of Covid-19.

Take steps to protect yourself and others:

Always wear a well-fitted face mask that covers your nose and mouth and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Avoid close contact with other people by staying at least 2 metres apart; and stay well clear of anyone who is sick.
  • Socialise outdoors as much as possible. Any place where people congregate is a potential risk area for the spread of the virus. It is advisable to limit time spent in enclosed public spaces.
  • Limit the number of passengers in a vehicle.
  • Ensure sufficient ventilation in your vehicle. Keep a window/windows slightly open to allow clean, fresh air to flow through your vehicle.
  • Wash and sanitise your hands regularly, especially after each and every interaction with service providers along the route, whether at toll gates (Tags offer a contactless payment method), service stations, restaurants, shops, etc.
  • Be vigilant not to touch public surfaces, and to immediately clean your hands if you have done so.
  • Keep snacks and water from home in your vehicle.
  • Pack a basic first aid kit, with your essential medicines; and keep hand sanitisers, soap, disinfectant wipes and paper towels in your vehicle and carry it with you when you exit your vehicle.

As important as it is to be careful of contracting or spreading Covid-19, it is also essential to balance these risks with all other road safety precautions. For instance, do not avoid taking regular rest stops (every two hours or 200km) to limit exposure, but then suffer from driver fatigue and a loss of concentration which can lead to road crashes.

Forewarned is forearmed

Familiarise yourself with your intended route, and get a sense of the places you will be stopping or staying at, to locate safe rest stops, fuel stations, and health-care facilities. Obtain information on road, traffic and weather conditions before your departure or during your trip by staying in touch with N3TC via Twitter @N3Route or on the 24-hour helpline: 0800 63 43 57.