Winter Travel Update

Keep an eye on N3 Toll Route updates and weather forecasts this winter holiday season 

N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) advises road users to plan for any eventuality before they embark on their road trips this winter.

Road users may encounter freezing temperatures, dense fog, snow, high winds and veld fires along parts of the N3 Toll Route over the next few months. The N3 Toll Route traverses four provinces (Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal) and weather conditions can rapidly change, especially in the mountainous areas along the route.

Beware of veld fires

Large tracts of rural land adjacent to the N3 Toll Route are used for agricultural purposes or form part of natural habitats. These are high-risk areas for the development and spread of runaway fires, especially during the dry season (June to October).

“As a precautionary measure, N3TC annually burns firebreaks in the road reserve, but wildfires remain a threat. We are reliant on our neighbours and road users to help prevent veld fires. Simple careless actions (such as flicking a burning cigarette butt from a vehicle’s window, or making a small fire for warmth and leaving it to burn unattended) have the potential to cause major damage to lives and properties” stresses Thania Dhoogra, operations manager of N3 Toll Concession. “Runaway fires may flare up many kilometres from the N3 Route, but strong winds can fuel these fires and cause them to spread at a rapid rate over vast areas.”

In the event of a veld fire, the following safety measures are recommended:

  • Immediately reduce your driving speed. Flames and thick smoke may severely compromise visibility.
  • Proceed with extreme caution, and only if visibility is good.
  • Switch your emergency- and headlights on – and keep them on – to be visible to oncoming traffic.
  • Never attempt to drive through thick smoke. If you cannot see, pull over to a safe area. Keep your lights on. Please do not park in the emergency lane. The risk of collisions, or driving off the road is extremely high when visibility is poor.
  • Keep your vehicle’s windows and air vents closed.
  • It is advisable not to exit your vehicle. Your vehicle provides you with the best protection against the heat and smoke from a veld fire. But, if you have to exit, keep your body and mouth covered, and shield your eyes. Move away from the fire as quickly and safely as possible, preferably to an area which has already burnt.
  • Always make way for emergency vehicles and carefully follow the instructions of safety officers.

Inclement weather may slow you down

Cold fronts may bring icy weather, sleet and snow, especially in high-lying areas. Surface moisture and dew can freeze into black ice, causing treacherous driving conditions. Van Reenen Pass, between Ladysmith and Harrismith, is especially prone to high winds and icy conditions.

Poor weather conditions may result in slow-moving traffic, congestion and delays, placing additional pressure on drivers. Should driving conditions become too dangerous, the Road Traffic Inspectorate may temporarily close certain sections of the route to manage traffic flow.

Mist and thick fog may be experienced at night and early mornings between Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg in Gauteng. N3TC encourages road users to delay their departures if travel conditions are poor.

Heed travel warnings – adapt to changing conditions

Drivers are advised to pay attention to changing road and weather conditions. “Please heed warnings, and adapt your driving style to the prevailing conditions,” requests Ms Dhoogra.

Always be prepared for any eventuality or emergency. Keep extra blankets, warm clothes, emergency medication, sufficient water, food and refreshments, a torch, and mobile phone chargers in your vehicle.

N3TC encourages motorists to preferably travel during the day. Travelling at night presents many additional challenges, including reduced visibility, drowsiness and fatigue, and a diminished ability to judge speed and distance. Criminals may also use the cover of darkness for their nefarious activities.

“Carefully plan your routes. Only stop at service stations or truck stops, and keep others informed of the route you are taking, your progress, and your expected arrival time.”

Expected traffic patterns

With the winter school holiday starting today (Friday, 23 June), southbound traffic volumes (towards KwaZulu-Natal) are expected to increase this afternoon (between 14:00 and 18:00) and tomorrow morning (Saturday, 24 June from 06:00 to 12:00). Thereafter, slight traffic increases may be experienced (in both directions) on weekends until the schools reopen on Tuesday, 18 July 2023. Peak traffic conditions are expected in a northbound direction (towards Gauteng) on Sunday, 16 July 2023.

Obtain advance traffic information and emergency assistance

N3TC’s Route Services with the support of their Road Incident Management partners closely monitor road and travel conditions to ensure their preparedness and a swift response to emergencies. Realtime, verified route and traffic updates are shared with the N3TC Route Control Centre. Motorists can access this information, or obtain emergency assistance, by contacting the 24-hour N3 Helpline on 0800 63 4357 or by following @N3Route on Twitter.

“We wish you a pleasant journey. Remember to take frequent breaks at one of the many safe areas along the route, stay refreshed and keep warm.”