If you are driving over December, expect road blocks on these four high-risk routes
- More than 1,600 people died on South Africa’s roads during the 2019 festive period.
- The recently launched Festive Season Road Safety Campaign will see law enforcement operations carried out 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
- Certain routes in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the Western Cape, and Eastern Cape will be closely monitored with consistent roadblock strategies.
- If you are using any of them, there is a very high likelihood you will be stopped, or delayed.
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More than 1,600 died on the South Africa's roads between 1 December 2019 and 15 January 2020. This year, traffic enforcement officials have promised more roadblocks and random stops through a 24-hour, 7-day shift system.
Appearing before Parliament on Tuesday, transport minister Fikile Mbalula explained that this year’s Festive Season Road Safety Campaign would be underpinned by cooperation between all spheres of law enforcement. The 365-Days Action Agenda, launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019, has pooled both local and national resources together in an attempt to remove reckless drivers from the country’s roads in the lead-up to the busy festive season.
“This Action Agenda must be understood within the broader context of the re-imaged Transport Safety Strategy, and places emphasis on law enforcement as a daily activity throughout the year, rather than a seasonal effort,” said Mbalula.
This strategy focuses on impounding unroadworthy vehicles, revoking licenses of motorists found to be driving recklessly or drunk, and eliminating corruption within law enforcement’s ranks.
Mbalula had hoped that the department’s push for a zero-tolerance approach to drunk driving – which would require motorists to have a blood-alcohol limit of 0% when operating a vehicle – would already be enforced
“An integral part of our strategy is to reduce the permissible alcohol intake to 0%,” said Mbalula. “We have no doubt that Parliament will support us in this effort and the Bill is currently before this House to make this goal a reality.”
The minister added that the number of mobile Alcohol Evidence Centres would be increased over the festive period and that the department of health had been roped in to assist with on-site blood sampling.
In addition to advanced alcohol testing facilities, law enforcement officials will investigate tyre conditions, load management (overloading of vehicles), faulty steering, defective brakes, and even bicycles with no rear reflectors.
Mbalula listed four high-risk routes, with a history of increased traffic and accidents over the festive period, which will be intensely policed.
If you are using these roads over the festive season, expect to be stopped, or at least delayed, by road blocks.
Mankweng R71 in Limpopo
The R71, east of Polokwane, is infamous for its high pedestrian fatality rate. Limpopo was one of the only provinces in the country to record an increase in fatalities in 2019, with 12% more deaths recorded. The majority of these deaths involved pedestrians.
“Most of the pedestrians are killed because of the pronounced pedestrian activity from villages in close proximity to the road who cross the road frequently,” said Mbalula.
N4 at the Vosman area, near Emalahleni in Mpumalanga
The N4 highway, which serves as a primary arterial between Pretoria in Gauteng and Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, sees an increase in traffic over the festive period. Additionally, the stretch of road between Rondebult Plant and Emalahleni (Witbank) is bordered by densely populated informal settlements.
In 2019, multiple incidents involving pedestrians were recorded on this 15km stretch of road. A high volume of freight trucks, providing logistics for mine operations in the area, heighten the risk.
N2 Pongola in KwaZulu-Natal
While the N2 highway, between Gauteng and northern KwaZulu-Natal, is eclipsed by the southern N3 route in terms of traffic volume over the festive period, Mbalula has pointed to speeding and reckless driving along this stretch as key factors in fatal accidents.
The Pongola intersection borders Eswatini and is frequently used by truckers hauling freight to and from Richards Bay.
R61 at the border of Western Cape and Eastern Cape
The R61 sees an increase in traffic over the festive season, as Eastern Cape locals return home from their places of work. While some transit from Cape Town involves the coastal N2 route, the R61, which provides a primary link to the N1 highway and traffic from the north, often experiences incidents when the two routes converge.
“Specifically, Aberdeen towards Graaff-Reinet, where the high fatality rate is a consequence of fatigue as drivers do not rest sufficiently,” said Mbalula
In addition to roadblocks and spot checks on private vehicles, Mbalula reiterated that Covid-19 protocols would be enforced on all forms of public transport, specifically, taxis.
“Regulations and Directions relating [to] 70% loading capacity for long distance public transport, keeping windows open by at least 5 centimetres for short distance taxis, wearing of masks by all occupants in public transport vehicles and sanitising, remain in force,” said Mbalula.
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