2023/2024 Summer Holiday Season
High volumes and mixed traffic place extra pressure on drivers and road safety resources
The N3 Toll Route, a 415-kilometre section of the N3 highway between Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg in Gauteng managed by N3 Toll Concession (N3TC), links South Africa’s busiest port in Durban to its inland provinces; and also connects large sections of the country’s agricultural, mining, industrial and tourism sectors located in KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
As a result, an ever-increasing mix of vehicle types utilises this strategic transport corridor with trucks constituting more than 40% of the total number of vehicles on the route at any given time – day, night, weekdays, weekends or holidays.
Over the last decade, largely due to the collapsing national rail network, South Africa has become significantly more reliant on its road network to support economic activity. Previously, traffic patterns on the N3 Toll Route tended to change over weekends and during peak holiday periods, when public transport and passenger vehicle numbers increased exponentially, and truck traffic declined. “This is no longer the case,” stresses Thania Dhoogra, operations manager of N3TC.
“Our most recent traffic studies clearly indicate that freight movement now follows typical weekday patterns,” says Ms Dhoogra. “Although a slight decrease in truck traffic may be experienced at the height of the festive season (between Christmas and New Year), road users should not expect a significant drop in truck traffic during the coming summer holiday season.”
An increase in traffic volumes, combined with a mix of vehicle types sharing the road, place additional demands on drivers, their passengers, emergency services, law enforcement agencies, and road management resources.
“We highly recommend that you carefully plan your road trip ahead of your departure, and stay informed of road and traffic conditions while en route. This way you will be better prepared for any eventuality, including possible emergencies and delays.”
Road safety is a shared responsibility. Committed efforts are required from all drivers to adhere to the rules of the road, to drive defensively, and to guard against complacency.
“Our attitudes, risk perceptions, driving skills, and choices have the greatest impact on road safety,” says Ms Dhoogra. “If possible, start your journey in the morning and travel during the daytime. Please slow down and remain patient when encountering traffic disruptions, or adverse weather conditions, and remember to adjust your driving style to the prevailing conditions. Make your road trip part of your holiday. Enjoy the sights and sounds, and take regular breaks to rest and replenish. Remember, great holidays only end once you have arrived safely back home,” continues Ms Dhoogra.
Your lifeline during emergencies or for essential information
Contact the 24-hour N3 Helpline on 0800 63 43 57 or follow @N3Route on X to obtain verified road and traffic information, or to report emergencies on the N3 Toll Route. N3TC’s route services teams are always on standby to lend a helping hand when you need one.
What to expect on the N3 Toll Route this holiday
Peak traffic conditions
A significant increase in traffic volumes, with typical holiday traffic patterns, is expected to commence towards the end of this week.
- Southbound traffic (towards Durban) is expected to gradually increase from Thursday afternoon, the 14th of December.
- The weekends of the 15th of December and the 22nd of December are expected to be particularly busy in both south- and northbound directions.
- High volumes in both south- and northbound directions may also be expected on Friday, the 31st of December.
- When many holidaymakers begin their return to Gauteng, northbound traffic volumes are expected to rise from Monday, the 1st of January 2024, and again over the weekend of the 5th to 7th of January.
State of the road
The condition of the N3 Toll Route is good. In its endeavour to continuously deliver world-class infrastructure, and live up to its promise of safety, convenience and mobility, N3TC’s strategy is geared towards the rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance of the road, which is achieved through innovative engineering interventions strategically planned and executed throughout the year.
No scheduled construction work will be performed on the N3 Toll Route during the peak holiday season from 14 December 2023 until 8 January 2024. Unless emergency repair- or maintenance work is required, all lanes will be open to traffic during this period.
Toll plazas will operate at maximum capacity
Although all toll plaza lanes will be open to traffic during peak times, congestion and delays may be experienced when traffic volumes are at a peak. For increased mobility and safety, tag payments are accepted in all lanes at the De Hoek, Wilge, Tugela and Mooi mainline- and ramp toll plazas.
Contactless card payments will also be introduced on the N3 Toll Route this holiday
FNB in partnership with Visa and N3TC are introducing a secure and convenient payment solution at mainline toll plazas on the N3 Toll Route this holiday. New-age card acceptance devices have been implemented in select toll plaza lanes at the De Hoek, Wilge, Tugela, and Mooi Toll Plazas to facilitate the acceptance of contactless card payments.
This innovative solution is expected to improve transaction speed, mobility and customer convenience at toll booths.
The “Tap and Go” payment option gives consumers greater peace of mind as all card transactions are authorised online.
Other payment methods, including tags, credit cards, fleet cards and cash will continue to be accepted at all N3 Toll Route plazas.
Please note: No payments with debit cards can be processed at any toll plaza in South Africa except where the card is enabled for contactless payment and is processed via a new contactless payment device on the N3 Toll Route.
Multi-disciplinary teams on standby to protect and support road users
All partners of the road incident management system (RIMS) on the N3 Toll Route, including N3TC’s route services teams, will be on high alert for the duration of the festive season.
Road users should expect increased blue-light visibility and active law enforcement, including satellite traffic check points and roadblocks at key locations along the route.
A number of special operations will be implemented to check the roadworthiness of vehicles, as well as public vehicle- and dangerous goods compliance. Drug and alcohol screening tests, active speed monitoring, vehicle and passenger overloading-, licence- and vehicle registration checks, and pedestrian safety operations will also be in effect.
Emergency medical- and advanced life support services (from both the public and private sectors, as well as volunteer groups) in the four provinces transected by the N3 Toll Route are ready to respond to any major emergency events.
Heavy- and light towing services, as well as mechanical and technical support services, will assist N3TC’s route services to swiftly respond to traffic blockages and breakdowns, and to help keep traffic flowing, particularly along the more challenging sections of the route, such as Van Reenen Pass.
“Together with our partners, N3TC is ready to welcome you on the N3 Toll Route this holiday. Remember to keep our 24-hour Helpline number 0800 63 43 57 close by in the event that you run into trouble, need roadside assistance or for real-time traffic updates on the N3 Toll Route between Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg in Gauteng. Please also play your part to make it a pleasant experience for everyone you share the road with. Take your time, remain patient and courteous, drive safely and have a happy holiday,” ends Ms Dhoogra.