Durban’s deadliest streets

2013-10-16 00:00

A RECENTLY released eThekwini Municipality report has shed light on the city’s most dangerous freeways and streets.

These are the stretches of road where there is a higher likelihood of being involved in an accident, being seriously injured, or killed.

The importance of this information was highlighted yesterday when a woman was killed on the N2 near the Umgeni off-ramp, the fifth most dangerous freeway location (see graphic).

The Witness has obtained documents, in the public interest, from the eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA) which highlights Durban’s high-risk accident zones that accounted for 12% of all deaths in the eThekwini Metro in 2012.

This is startling considering the 16 high accident zones accounted for only 3 655 accidents out of a total of 62 000 recorded throughout the city over the period from January 2012 to December 2012.

As detailed in the graphic, the majority of the 77 deaths occurred on freeways, but this is largely due to greater traffic flows where, for example, on the N3 at St James Avenue, 79 998 vehicles passed through daily in 2012.

The information, supplied by ETA, which is responsible for strategising and planning around issues of traffic, also said as many as 80% of all accidents were caused by driver error, such as ignoring stop/go controls, or speeding, or a combination of driver error and potholes.

The eight freeway high-risk accident zones within the city saw 2 643 accidents, of which 2 172 resulted in slight injuries and 2,15% in death.

During the same period, only 0,9% of all arterial accidents, amounting to 1 012, resulted in fatalities.

While Metro Police spokesperson Eugene Msomi was unable to give reason for all the accidents, he said with 2 000 Metro officers employed by the city, they had enough capacity to deal with traffic enforcement.

“We are also supported by all law enforcement agencies to carry out our duties. However, the responsibility of understanding what the causes of the city accidents are rests with the eThekwini Transport Authority,” said Msomi.

City CCTV manager Camilus Koali said it is common practice for traffic enforcement agencies to view the CCTV footage of an accident scene to get a clear understanding of what transpired at any scene.

“We have 264 operational cameras in the city and a further 23 that are to be included onto the grid. We use the cameras to manage crime, traffic, accidents and public rail services.

“All traffic footage is recorded. This is used to ascertain what transpired at any given accident and allows the likes of ETA to come up with suitable plans and objectives.”

In September, The Witness reported on the ETA’s Road Traffic Accidents and Road Traffic Volumes 2011/12 report, which found accidents in the eThekwini metro area cost the economy over R5 billion in 2012. The report found that there were 564 fatal accidents resulting in 609 deaths in the metro. It also found that there had been a progressive downward trend in the city’s accident rate from a high of 101 accidents per 1 000 vehicles in 2007, to just 79 in 2012, an all-time low since the turn of the century.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

SOUTH Coast road accident survivor Umlazi-based Boy Vezi (64), an insurance broker who frequently uses public transport to commute to Durban Central, said greater enforcement is needed.

In May, Vezi miraculously survived a horrific accident on an intersection off South Coast Road when an oncoming vehicle jumped a traffic light and ploughed head-on into the taxi he was travelling in. Vezi was sitting in the front seat.

“If I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt this would be a very different type of situation. I would not be here. The attitude of the public transport drivers and poor enforcement by traffic officials are largely to blame for accidents. There is arrogance on the road. I still use pubic transport if need be but it is not safe,” said Vezi.

He said it was a miracle he survived and that no one was killed in the accident.

“I travel from Umlazi on that route almost every day. We were all admitted to hospital but thankfully no one sustained fatal injuries, including the driver of the other vehicle,” said Vezi.

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