More from the N3
Last month I promised to give you the juicy details of my trip down the N3 with the N3TC. As you might imagine, poor road behaviour was not difficult to come by
To be honest, so, too, was good driving behaviour. In fact, as you’ll read on page 28, I made another trip down the N3 exactly a week later in a Volvo FH. On both occasions I was generally impressed with the level of driver behaviour, but the few “bad apples” were impossible to ignore and, unfortunately, most of these stemmed from our beloved truckers …
Let’s start on a positive note, though. Most motorists adhere to the “keep left, pass right” rule; I only witnessed two incidents of excessive speed (one from a car, one from a truck) and, despite numerous road works, both were largely pleasant trips.
Road works … I recall studying a short story in Afrikaans letterkunde (literature), during high school, entitled Die Padmaker. It was a story written in old South Africa, about a worker who spent long days in the sun building roads. Unfortunately, I cannot find the story, or remember the character’s name, but I do recall he undertook his work with great pride, despite it being a largely thankless job …
The story ran through my head as, at about lunch time on day one of the N3TC trip, we received news of a motorist who had ploughed into some active road works on the route. Sadly, one of the road workers was killed. It is a thankless job, road works; but now I say thanks to all those brave enough to do it daily, with motorists whizzing by and ignoring temporary speed restrictions.
On day two of the trip we were hoping for no similar bad news. Heading down Van Reenen’s Pass we encountered a train of trucks unlike anything I’ve seen before. You may recall I mentioned it last month, but, to recap, we eventually discovered that the brakes on a cross-border truck had begun to overheat, and it had stopped at the side of the road; causing everyone to slowly pass.
(A week later, when I was with Volvo, this good behaviour was nowhere to be seen, as trucks overtook other trucks both up and down the pass.)
Nonetheless, onward the day went, and we passed the Mooi River toll plaza heading for our final destination, Pietermaritzburg. Ahead of us was a rather large truck pulling some red bins packed full with branches and leaves. Sure enough, as another industry colleague and I were discussing the unsecured load, one of the top branches caught some air and flew into the road right in front of our minibus.
Slamming on the brakes, our driver swerved and narrowly avoided the piece of tree. Our chaperone for the tour, the N3TC’s Con Roux, made a few calls (as you’ll read on page 24, the N3TC has a very good relationship with the KwaZulu-Natal traffic police) and the vehicle was pulled over just outside Pietermaritzburg.
This nearly ended in disaster; the truck driver tailgating the red-binned rogue clearly wasn’t expecting it to stop for the traffic officer. He slammed on brakes and swerved into the emergency lane, narrowly avoiding a nasty incident and visibly shaken.
More road works were up ahead outside ‘Maritzburg (now on the Sanral section of the road), which we avoided. A week later, however, I sat at these for about an hour with the Volvos.
Nothing untoward to report here, save for the plethora of the town’s soccer moms in their MPVs loaded with kids bouncing around and hanging out of the windows. We might have only been moving at 10 km/h, but I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!
Imagine the carnage if one of these had ploughed into the road works … A shocking thought, yes; but I’m starting to think that’s the type of imagery some unfazed road users need.