For as long as I have lived in the area the junctions where 17th Avenue and Quarry Road meet Kommetjie Road in Fish Hoek have been accident black spots. The local newspapers had letter after letter regarding this problem and what was to be done. The main problems were that it was nearly impossible at busy times to get out of 17th Avenue and that traffic used the left lane going west to get ahead of traffic at the Quarry Road junction. After a lot of pressure, accidents and tragedies, the council finally installed traffic lights at the 17th Avenue junction and new road markings too on both junctions to make it clear where you should be and where you shouldn’t. They even amended the traffic flow under further pressure to perfect the junctions.
Despite all these alterations there continues to be accident after accident at the junctions. An enterprising entrepreneur could start a business recycling glass that is left after accidents, or selling second hand car parts that fall off. The changes that have been made make a lot of sense; the traffic lights at 17th Avenue should have sorted that, and the lane markings and chevron areas after the junctions should have solved the problem of the coming together of traffic. So why the continued problems and numerous collisions?
Sunday saw yet another coming together, this time it looked like a car coming down Quarry Road collided with a car going west on Kommetjie Road. If you know the junction think about that one! I didn’t see the accident, only the aftermath, and it didn’t look like anyone was too hurt although half the ambulances on the Cape Point Peninsula seemed to be there.
So what is going on here? The council have done their bit and yet here we are, still pick bits of car out of the road. I can only conclude that there is a lot of careless driving going on at this junction. It is a well known accident black spot and yet the majority seem to be even more careless around it than they are elsewhere.
Its not even that complicated a set of junctions now the lights are there. So in the interest of public safety, and so that you have no excuses anymore here is the definitive guide to driving through the junctions.
Coming west to east up Kommetjie Road (coming from Sun Valley towards Fish Hoek):
The left had lane is for turning off into 17th Avenue, the first arrow telling you this is just after Riverside Road, and there are further reminders all the way up. A stop zone at the first set of lights (Quarry Road) is a car length short of the robots. At the turn off for 17th avenue there is a turn left green light on the robots. The lights will go red first and then the green arrow comes on shortly after: it is a good idea to pause until this happens. If you are going on to Fish Hoek then get into the right hand lane as early as possible; cutting in late causes most of the problems at the lights, doing it after 17th avenue is illegal and there is a special place in hell for anyone who does this. One of the main issues at the lights is idiots and taxi drivers cutting in as late as possible, set an example and don’t do it. If you intend to go into Quarry Road then there is a right hand turn lane after the chevrons, you even get a turn at the lights. Bear in mind that traffic turns up out of the other side of Kommetjie Road into Quarry Road so make the turn with eyes wide open.
Coming east to west up Kommetjie Road (coming from towards Fish Hoek towards Sun Valley):
Again we have two lanes of traffic, the left is for turning up Quarry road at the second set of lights, and again we have a left turn only green light. The turn is not very severe and the temptation is to take it at speed: whilst the corner is not tight it is blind and there are a lot of pedestrians around, plus if you get it wrong you could hit cars waiting to come out of Quarry Road. One of the most common accidents from this side is from cars using the left lane to go straight on, cutting back in after the bus stop- not big or clever. To go straight on use the right hand lane only. To turn into 17th Avenue at the first robot there is a right hand turn lane: this is a tight turn and cars have a tendency to be too far forward when waiting to come up the hill so take it as easy as you can- also there are likely to be cars turning left on the other side of the road as well as speeding traffic trying to beat the lights, surely with all this going on it is worth taking extra care. If in doubt, wait, be the hero and not another idiot.
One problem that can get the best of drivers at these lights is going in this direction, it doesn’t seem to be as big a problem going the other way. The two sets of lights are not synchronized; when you stop at the first set you have a tendency to look at the second set and if you are not concentrating you can follow these signals, deadly if they turn green and you set off, the first set still being red- be aware, you have been warned.
Coming out of 17th Avenue:
should now be a breeze, although the lights are not in your favour for long. You also need to anticipate whether you are going straight or turning up Quarry Road so that you get into the right lane straight away. Also, just because the lights are green check and double check and remain vigilant, again, be the hero here- you may be in the right if there is an accident, but your car will still be getting towed to the panel beaters (or scrap yard) which will put a big dent in your self righteousness. Your biggest concern here should be in controlling the clutch coming up the hill. For some reason this is now a favourite place for learner drivers to be taught, seems a little silly to me, so just give them some room in case they roll back into you. Another crazy habit that is coming into vogue coming up 17th Avenue is for cars to pull out of a long queue of traffic, drive up the wrong side of the road and turn into Nelson Road.
Turning out of Quarry Road:
This should be the easiest thing to do and yet Sunday proved this to be a myth. Mainly this is due to people misjudging the severity of the turn and the how steep the hill is where it joins Kommetjie Road. The lights are in your favour, just pay attention and take it slower than you think you need to (I nearly got killed by someone on a motorbike last year because they misjudged the corner and laid the bike down, it mounted the pavement inches behind me).
Complicating the junctions are the two bus/taxi ranks that are on either side if Kommetjie Road, just after the second lights on both sides. Again, be the hero here, we all know that the taxis and buses will be driven like life doesn’t matter, so just anticipate and drive for this, let them go and be idiots somewhere else.
Please, take care at these junctions, there is no need for it to be a high accident area.