Drivers kept in the right lane

Warnings that drivers ignore when using the railway bridge in Muizenberg.
Warnings that drivers ignore when using the railway bridge in Muizenberg.

Two crashes per month into the railway bridge or getting stuck under it, are two too many.

This is what Eddie Andrews, Mayco member (South), said when the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) geared up to keep a closer eye on drivers of over-height vehicles who disregard warnings issued by the 3D laser detection system installed at a cost of R200 000.

Andrews visited the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) installation which has been in effect on Baden Powell Drive since June, and has been in operation along Main Road and Atlantic Road since 2016.

“The railway bridge crossing in Atlantic Road, Muizenberg, is known for vehicular crashes mainly because road users often underestimate the height of their vehicles when driving under the bridge. Since the installation of this ITS in 2016, we have seen a significant reduction in the number of over-height vehicles getting stuck or crashing into the bridge,” he said.

Despite the numerous warning signboards, two cases per month are reported.

“Considering the inconvenience and the risk to public safety, we therefore encourage drivers to please adhere to the height restrictions and warnings so that we can bring the tally to zero. We have installed CCTV cameras so that we can monitor and take action against drivers who are disregarding the warnings,” Andrews said.

The first phase of this system, which was completed in 2017, covered the northbound approach on Main Road, which saw a reduction in the number of crashes, and this led to the subsequent roll-out of Phase 2 along Baden Powell Drive.

The 3D laser detection system measures the height of every vehicle approaching the bridge. Should it detect that the highest point of a vehicle in either of the two lanes is greater than 2.5m from the road surface, a warning system is activated which in turn triggers two bright orange flashing beacons on a warning signboard.

The beacons remain flashing for about 30 seconds to indicate to the driver that an alternate route should be used and that the vehicle is too high to pass under the bridge.

In addition to the warning beacons, two high-definition CCTV camera have been installed to ensure that the system is working efficiently and the footage can be used to assist in prosecuting offenders.

“In addition to the safety aspect, an incident of this nature causes massive inconvenience and places unnecessary pressure on existing resources that are much needed elsewhere in the city. For example, Traffic Services will need to be deployed to manage and divert the traffic while the vehicle is on site as this bridge is located on a busy arterial. This inconvenience, including traffic delays, can last for hours as it is very difficult to remove an over-height vehicle that is stuck under the bridge and the vehicle will need to be turned around.

“We are therefore very serious about taking action against drivers with over-height vehicles who ignore the warning signs as their disregard for the rules of the road could potentially pose a safety risk for themselves and for other road users, never mind the inconvenience. We have already submitted the footage of one of the incidents for a prosecution and we are waiting for the outcome of that case,” he said.

Going forward, the City will continue to monitor the success of these two systems. In the meantime, drivers are urged to obey the warning signs. “If the yellow beacons are flashing, please take the alternative route – it is the safe thing to do,” Andrews appealed to drivers.

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