Good Life

Act responsibly: always drive sober

The N3 Toll Concession manages the N3 Toll Route between Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg, Gauteng

More than 14,000 people lose their lives on SA roads every year, costing the economy about R168bn.
More than 14,000 people lose their lives on SA roads every year, costing the economy about R168bn.
Image: Supplied/N3TC

Fifteen years ago, Caro Smit tragically lost her son in an avoidable car crash. Since then, as the director of the South Africans Against Drunk Driving initiative, she has made it her life’s work to educate and inform South Africans about the dangers of driving under the influence.

There is absolutely no good reason to get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you are under the influence of any substance or alcohol. You owe it to yourself, your loved ones and fellow road users to never risk your life, or another person’s, by not thinking ahead and acting responsibly.

“Before you take any substance, whether alcohol or any form of drug, including medicine, make sure you have a plan to keep yourself and others safe,” says Smit.

“We run various road safety and awareness drives, particularly in schools, to teach learners at a young age about the effect of drugs and alcohol on their safety, and to instil positive behavioural patterns from a young age. The emotional, physical and financial losses suffered at the hands of drunk drivers are hard to bear.

“As with pedestrians, cyclists are often unprotected on our roads, with children and young adults usually most at risk. During the coming festive peak season, Caro and her team of volunteers will run educational initiatives to help safeguard cyclists in communities adjacent to the N3 toll route. With the support of N3 Toll Concession (N3TC), we distribute safety gear, including reflective vests and helmets, to vulnerable cyclists,” says Smit.    

N3TC manages the N3 toll route between Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg in Gauteng, providing road users with a safe and convenient travel experience.

Watch the video below:

On the road, avoid any substance with an intoxicating or narcotic effect

Most people narrowly interpret the term “driving under the influence” as meaning driving while drunk, but this view needs to change.

Many prescription and over-the-counter medicines used for anxiety, pain or colds and flu, can have side effects that negatively influence a person’s driving ability. Alcohol, cannabis, some pharmaceutical substances and drugs can adversely affect a user’s attention span, focus, vigilance, perceptions of time and speed, as well as their ability to interpret, apply and adapt their knowledge wisely and responsibly.

Scientific studies have found that drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to go faster, take more risks, and drive closer to the vehicles in front of them because they don’t realise how impaired they are; while people under the influence of cannabis drive slower and keep a larger distance from the vehicle in front of them. However, their focus and attention spans are lowered and their reaction times are much slower, which also poses serious safety risks.

“Impaired driving is dangerous driving — whether the cause is legal or not,” says Praveen Sunderlall, manager of N3TC’s road incident management services on the N3 Toll Route.

“We partner with law enforcement officers, emergency services, health services and community organisations such as South Africans Against Drunk Driving, to help curb the carnage on our roads,” he says.

More than 14,000 people lose their lives on SA roads every year, costing the economy about R168bn. The number of fatal crashes rises steeply during peak traffic periods, such as the upcoming December holiday season, with the leading causes of crashes being attributed to human error and negligence.

According to the minister of transport, some of the main types of crashes during the 2019 summer holiday season were single vehicles crashes, head-on collisions and pedestrian crashes.

The National Road Safety Act makes it an offence to drive while “under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drug having a narcotic effect”, and sets the limit of the concentration of alcohol allowed in a person’s blood or breath. Even the smallest amount of residual alcohol can have a negative effect on a person’s concentration and sense of judgment as it impairs the cognitive function of a person’s central nervous system, with possible disastrous consequences.    

No tolerance for offenders this holiday season   

On the N3 toll route, road users can expect zero tolerance to lawlessness. Officers of the Road Traffic Inspectorate and SA Police Service will operate traffic checkpoints along the entire route, with random drug and alcohol screening tests being performed throughout the holiday season.

“Offenders will have no chance of getting away scot-free. Our aim is to eradicate the scourge of drunk driving on our roads. Your care and consideration can help us achieve this goal,” says Sunderlall.

Get help along the N3 Toll Route 

N3TC operates a route control centre (RCC) between Cedara and Heidelberg, where all information regarding road conditions, incidents, weather, traffic and other travel alerts are received. Vital information and early warnings are sent out from this central communication hub via a 24-hour helpline and other social media platforms.

Road users can obtain essential information or report problems on the N3 Toll Route by contacting the helpline on 080-063-4357 or by following @N3Route on Twitter.

This article was paid for by the N3 Toll Concession.