Transport for Cape Town, the City of Cape Town’s transport authority, has installed a 3D laser detection system in Muizenberg to assist in preventing vehicles with a height of 2,5 m and more from crashing into the low railway bridge at Atlantic Road.

‘The railway bridge crossing Atlantic Road in Muizenberg is notorious for crashes, mainly because road users often underestimate the height of their vehicles or load when driving through under the bridge. A truck or vehicle crashes into or gets stuck under this bridge about once a week despite the numerous signboards along Main Road and Atlantic Road warning drivers of the 2,5 m height restriction ahead,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

It became apparent that a different warning system was required to improve the safety of road users and to try to prevent crashes into the railway bridge over Atlantic Road as the earlier systems were affected by the extremely corrosive environment and required constant maintenance.

The opportunity to remedy this situation was offered by the recent Main Road rehabilitation project in Muizenberg when it was decided that an improved system could be installed as part of the roadworks.

‘TCT officials proposed a 3D laser detection system following international research. A system developed by a local company was installed above the northbound carriageway of Main Road, about 150 m from the intersection with Atlantic Road. It uses an infrared laser beam to read the height of the vehicles and their load. Should it detect that a vehicle in the turning lane is higher than 2,5 m from the road surface, a warning system is triggered at the intersection with Atlantic Road. A signboard with high-power LED lights will flash for about 30 seconds, indicating to the driver that their vehicle is too high to cross underneath the railway bridge,’ said Councillor Herron.

Although it is too early to determine the success rate of the new warning system, it is noteworthy that no crashes have occurred since 1 June 2016 when the system started operating.

‘We have spent about R300 000 on the detection system. This is a small price to pay if it can prevent at least half of the crashes that we have witnessed at this bridge over the years and if it can assist in improving the general road safety in this area,’ said Councillor Herron. The 3D laser detection system is the first to be installed in Cape Town.

‘The plan is to roll out two more laser detection systems – one above the southbound carriageway of Main Road for traffic approaching Atlantic Road from Steenberg, and another above Atlantic Road for traffic approaching the railway bridge from the eastern side along the R310. These roll-outs will happen as soon as we have determined the success rate of the first system,’ said Councillor Herron.