BEING a retired traffic officer after many years in the RTI, I read with anguish in The Witness about the horrific accident recently on Townhill where a tanker carrying a volatile substance exploded after crashing into a road-working machine, and ended up killing two people and injuring several others. Only by the grace of God were no other people killed.
At one stage of my career I worked in Estcourt and attended many shocking accidents at the bottom of the notorious Griffins Hill. While stationed in Port Shepstone, I attended a devastating accident where 14 people were killed in Hibberdene in a bus crash, of which seven were decapitated. I also worked in Greytown and attended some terrible accidents on the hill leading into New Hanover from Greytown. Then I was transferred to Pinetown and spent many an hour at Fields Hill removing bodies and debris from the roadway, and then came a second transfer to Pietermaritzburg and once again Townhill became the most feared hill in the province because of its long descent and notoriety for heavy vehicle collisions.
Let’s not forget Van Reenen’s Pass, which has claimed plenty of lives and caused major disruptions to road traffic.
Why did the driver of the tanker that caused the accident on Townhill not use the arrestor bed to stop his vehicle if the brakes failed?
Just by observing the condition of the arrestor bed, it does not look as if it is being attended to. I say this because after a heavy vehicle has driven into it, a gang of workers must rake the pebbles back into place, otherwise they do not have stopping capabilities and become clumped together and sprayed onto the side of the bed.
In short, I say there are too many heavy vehicle operating on our major routes putting motorists lives at stake, and when road engineers plan routes for new roads and highways, they should plan a route where steep hills are avoided even if it does cost more to build. After all, human life is more important than saving money.