R27 dualling not the answer, says City

Eight people died when a truck and taxi collided on Tuesday June 8.

There have been calls for dual carriageways and lower speed limits on the R27, following fatal crashes there, but the City says a change in driver behaviour is what’s really needed.

In the last three weeks, there have been three crashes on the R27, two of them fatal. On Tuesday June 8, eight people died after a truck hit a taxi turning into Birkenhead Drive from the R27.

On Thursday June 17, a man died when his VW Polo collided head on with a truck.

Melkbosstrand residents say action needs to be taken to reduce the number of crashes on the R27.

On Wednesday June 23, another crash between Melkbosstrand and the Atlantis turn-off, resulted in multiple injuries, but no deaths were reported.

After the first crash, Melkbosstrand Ratepayers’ Association chairwoman Smokie la Grange said the speed limit on the R27 should be reduced to 80km/h (“Charity drive for horror crash families,” Tabletalk, June 16).

Melkbosstrand residents have also discussed dualling the R27.

City spokeswoman for traffic services Maxine Bezuidenhout said residents’ suggestions would be considered in discussions with the road department’s engineers.

“Decisions will be based on facts obtained from speeding surveys, future plans for the area, the current design of the road and what can be done within the limitations of our legislative framework,” she said. “People who disobey the rules of the road are prosecuted by means of a summons, that is issued to them and those who potentially cause accidents or who drive recklessly are arrested and brought before a magisterial court.”

City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said that dualling a road like the R27 would be very costly and would only be considered once the single-lane road could no longer handle traffic volumes.

“At this point in time, the volumes do not nearly justify dualling. Dualling may also result in speeding. Speed reductions seldom result in improved driver behaviour, which is mostly determined by law enforcement and driver attitude.

“Proposals for speed reductions must follow a due process, which must take into consideration environmental factors as well as current travelled speeds. It is highly doubtful that any speed reduction along this stretch of roadway would be warranted, nor would it be likely to result in improved compliance,” he said.

According to Mr Tyhalibongo, the top speed on the 6.3km stretch of the R27 between Berkshire Boulevard and Birkenhead Drive is 120km/h. The limits outside that stretch are between 80 and 100km/h, and the time difference between a motorist travelling at 160km/h and a law-abiding motorist travelling at 120km/h is around 63 and 79 seconds.

So the speeding motorist would, more often than not, find that the vehicle they had overtaken in the southbound direction would catch up at the red signal anyway, he said.

“Any possible time ’gained’ by speeding would in fact most often be lost by delays encountered at the signals on either side of this stretch of roadway.“

Drivers should be disciplined and respect other road users because crashes were usually caused by impatient drivers. Motorists, he said, should not overtake where it was not safe to do so or tailgate slower motorists to “bully” them into the shoulder. Aggressive and arrogant driver behaviour put lives at risk, he said.