N3 TOLL ROUTE | TRAFFIC UPDATE |
EASTER LONG WEEKEND | 06 – 10 APRIL 2023
Plans afoot to boost road safety on the N3 Toll Route this Easter
N3 Toll Concession and its road safety partners are prepared to accommodate increased traffic volumes on the N3 Toll Route this Easter weekend.
“In anticipation of the influx of holidaymakers, satellite stations will be strategically located along the N3 Toll Route, as a base for law enforcement, road traffic management and emergency services for the duration of the Easter weekend. These temporary road safety and law enforcement satellite stations allow for a swift response to any emergencies that may arise along the route,” explains Thania Dhoogra, operations manager of N3 Toll Concession (N3TC). “Road users should be prepared for various traffic checkpoints, increased blue light visibility, strict speed and traffic law enforcement and zero tolerance of traffic offenders.”
All road incident management systems (RIMS) are in place to provide multi-disciplinary support to road users. These include aero-medical and advanced life support teams, emergency-, rescue-, medical-, disaster management-, fire-, breakdown- and various private sector partners. Notwithstanding the readiness of these systems, it is vitally important that road users remember that the responsibility to create safer roads is a shared responsibility.
N3TC manages a 415km section of the N3 Toll Route between Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg in Gauteng, linking South Africa’s economic hub with the Port of Durban. As a primary freight transport and tourism route, the N3 Toll Route carries high volumes of traffic daily, with the numbers increasing sharply over peak travel seasons such as long weekends and holiday seasons.
“It is N3TC’s responsibility to ensure that the road is kept in a good condition through ongoing routine maintenance and periodic infrastructure improvements when required, as without these timely interventions, roads may become unsafe,” explains Ms Dhoogra.
Included in N3TC’s road maintenance programme are daily inspections of the entire route to identify possible problem areas and implement the required fixes as quickly as possible. N3TC further offers route, traffic and scene management services in the event of emergencies or crashes, and roadside assistance to road users who may find themselves in need of assistance on the N3 Toll Route.
“We can design and build world-class roads and have vehicles fitted with the best safety features, but road users should also play their part to help make our roads safer,” states Ms Dhoogra. “Whether you are a driver, a passenger, a pedestrian, a vehicle owner, or an operator, it is our shared responsibility to protect lives.”
2022 crash statistics continue to highlight the human factor as a major area of concern
“Statistics show that the majority of all crashes are caused by human error, whether it is as a result of driver negligence such as speeding, or a lack of concentration.”
In 2022, 77% of all light motor vehicle crashes on N3 Toll Route were caused by human error, compared to 73% in 2021. The human factor played an even bigger role in heavy motor vehicle crashes, with 85% of all truck crashes in 2022 being attributed to human error, and 80% in 2021.
The total number of fatalities in all crashes on the N3 Toll Route decreased by 19% in 2022, but it is concerning that the overall number of crashes resulting in serious (often life-altering) injuries increased by 28%.
On a positive note, it seems that drivers are being more responsible during poor weather conditions with 17.5% of all crashes in 2022 occuring during poor weather conditions, versus 22.2% in 2021.
Increasing truck traffic poses challenges
Trucks constitute approximately 44% of all vehicles travelling on the N3 Toll Route daily, with an 8% – 10% annual growth in heavy motor vehicle traffic recorded over the past decade. This is mainly due to the shift of freight transport, especially bulk products, from rail to road.
Road users are warned not to expect a significant decline in truck traffic during holiday periods, and to make provision for slower-moving heavy vehicles which may add to the general traffic congestion at the height of peak times.
Combined with an increased number of public transport vehicles, such as buses and minibus taxis, which are expected on the N3 Toll Route this Easter weekend, “road users would do well to plan ahead for their trips, and to be prepared for any eventuality. Always allow extra travel time for possible emergencies and delays,” advises Ms Dhoogra.
In 2022, trucks were involved in 57.3% of all crashes on the N3 Toll Route whereas 53.1% of all crashes in 2021 involved heavy motor vehicles. This increase in truck crashes correlates with the steady growth in heavy motor vehicle traffic on the N3 Toll Route.
Although the number of fatal heavy motor vehicle crashes decreased from 52.2% in 2021 to 45.1% in 2022, the severity of these crashes involving trucks remains an area of concern.
Support your driver
Safe driving requires the ability to concentrate, make good judgment calls and quickly react to unexpected situations. Ms Dhoogra encourages drivers to make regular rest stops, at least every 200km, to stay alert behind the wheel. “Even a short 10-minute break can make all the difference to your well-being and ability to concentrate.”
But, Ms Dhoogra also appeals to road users to “only stop at safe, designated rest stops so as not to fall prey to opportunistic criminals who may take advantage of vulnerable people parked on the side of the road. Remember, to immediately contact our 24/7 Route Control Centre for assistance on the N3 Toll Route. Keep the N3 Helpline number 0800 63 43 57 stored on your mobile phone in case of emergencies.”
Passengers can support their drivers by being an extra pair of eyes and helping them to anticipate dangerous situations.
“Be alert and monitor your surroundings and make use of the various official channels available to stay informed of road and traffic conditions. Knowledge of the rules of the road, and adhering to them, gives drivers and their passengers the best chance of enjoying a pleasant journey and arriving safely at their destinations,” says Ms Dhoogra.
Expected peak traffic forecast
High traffic volumes of 2500 vehicles per hour are expected on the N3 Toll Route in a southbound direction (towards KwaZulu-Natal) on Thursday, 6 April (between 15H00 and 18H00) and on Friday, 7 April (from 09H00 to 12H00). On Monday, 10 April 2023, return traffic is expected to peak at approximately 3500 vehicles per hour northbound (towards Gauteng) between 12H00 and 18H00.
It is important to note that traffic control measures may be implemented by the Road Traffic Inspectorate to manage traffic flow, limit congestion, and improve safety along the route, particularly on Van Reenen Pass. The likelihood of these measures being instituted are especially high during peak times on Monday, 10 April.
Road construction and maintenance
No scheduled construction work will be performed between 06 – 10 April 2023. All lanes will be available to accommodate the expected higher traffic volumes. Only emergency maintenance work will be undertaken, if required.
Road users are reminded to adhere to signposted speed limits and are requested to pay careful attention to the various traffic signs along the way.
Payment methods accepted
For increased mobility and safety, tag payment is accepted in all toll lanes at the toll plazas on the N3 Toll Route. Other accepted payment methods include credit cards, fleet cards, cash or petrol/garage cards. PLEASE NOTE: Payments with debit cards are not accepted at any toll plaza in South Africa.
Help in emergencies
N3TC’s Route Control Centre (RCC) initiates all emergency responses on the N3 Toll Route. Road users can stay in touch with the RCC by following @N3Route on Twitter, or by contacting the 24-hour N3 Helpline on 0800 63 43 57 for a rapid response to emergencies, to report problems, or to obtain verified, up-to-date traffic information on the N3 Toll Route.
“N3TC wishes you a safe and pleasant journey. Please take special care to arrive safely back home,” ends Ms Dhoogra.