During South Africa’s highest level of lockdown in April 2020, Cape Town recorded its lowest number of crashes in the last eight years.
According to Mayco member for transport Felicity Purchase, the number of crashes during the peak lockdown period on the N1, N2, N7 and M3 freeways decreased from 223 in March to only 33 in April.
Data collected during the lockdown suggests that the pandemic could permanently affect the way commuters travel.
An overall decrease of between 75% and 80% in traffic on freeways was experienced during the peak period of the lockdown in April.
As of May, traffic increased by 20% to 40% and the month of June ushered in a return of 65% of normal traffic was recorded.
Reduced traffic volumes resulted in the lowest number of accidents since the initial inception of the Freeway Management System in 2012.
“We all had to, and are still adapting to the new normal. Part of this is the requirement to work from home, if possible, and to limit unnecessary trips. Some of the many behaviour changes that may flow from COVID-19 are that more people will be working remotely, or working from home more often, or work different hours to limit interaction with other commuters and colleagues,” said Alderman Purchase.
“Should these changes become the new norm, it will greatly assist with the easing of traffic congestion on our main roads, shorten travelling times, and lower carbon emissions. We can also save many lives as an increase in road users often leads to more fatalities, as the above statistics indicate.”
While the pandemic has brought great devastation to South Africa in many ways, it has also presented a possible way to deal with one of the country’s biggest causes of deaths: the open road.