Monday darkest day on SA roads

2008-03-05 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL’s horrific spate of accidents on Monday has been described as the “worst day on South Africa’s roads”.

Nationally, more than 60 people were killed in accidents on the country’s roads, prompting road safety authorities to dub March 3 “Black Monday”.

This comes after 12 farm workers, two teachers, a 10-year-old pupil and 15 others were killed in accidents in Shongweni, Dundee and Mtubatuba on Monday morning.

In what was described as a “terrible, terrible morning” by Transport MEC Bheki Cele, 31 people were killed in the space of two hours.

At a media briefing in Durban yesterday, Cele expressed his sadness at the deaths and said reckless and negligent driving were to blame. He criticised motorists who display “idiotic behaviour” while driving.

“In all three accidents, human error seems to be the major contributing factor that could have been avoided if people could be 100% compliant,” said Cele.

Richard Benson from the road safety action campaign said Monday was probably the worst day on South Africa’s roads, one that will never be forgotten.

“Even without access to statistics, it’s safe to say that Monday had the most number of road deaths. It’s important to also remember that not all accident victims survive. Many die in hospital so figures could be higher,” he said.

Benson said that if government took the proper steps, this would eliminate 80% of deaths on South Africa’s roads.

He said this would include reducing speed limits. “Sure, trips would be much longer with the reduced speed limits, but ultimately much safer for all road users,” he said.

Benson also said government should train more traffic police to cope with the eight million drivers on the country’s roads.

“Currently, we have 10 000 fully-trained traffic police. We need more.”

Cele and Premier S’bu Ndebele have declared tomorrow an official day of mourning to remember those killed in the accidents. An inter-faith prayer event will be held at Curries Fountain. The names of the victims have not been released.

Yesterday, 10 people were injured during a collision on the N2 northbound, near the Claire Road Bridge.

In a separate incident, a truck driver was killed when he lost control of his truck and crashed through the barrier and on to a lower level at Spaghetti Junction. The truck landed upside down on its cab, and debris hit a Mercedes Benz on the bottom carriageway. The driver of the truck was killed instantly, but the Mercedes driver escaped unharmed.

ER24 spokesman Derrick Banks said the N3 remained closed for most of the day so that clean-up crews could mop-up the spilt fuel and other contents.

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