I have been a jumpy driver (and passenger) lately; more than usual. Big Friendly fetched me from the airport yesterday and even though we were going home against the traffic people’s lunatic behaviour in their cars had my nerves shot by the time we got home. On the one hand there are the drivers who take absolutely idiotic chances assuming you will back down, slow down and give way. Then there are the drivers who stay so close to your bum they could smell it, and flash you when you don’t move over fast enough for them. There are the red robot jumpers and the red robot shooters who assume you will just give way. There are the cellphone users and smsers. Then there are those that just completely lose their temper with you; swearing, signing, going red in the face and sometimes trying to cut you off and force you off the road. People hoot and charge instead of give way. A four way stop near my house is never a polite negotiation, it is always a war zone. I am bullied by oncoming taxis on our narrow Woodstock roads that are piled to the rooftops with schoolchildren. I am cut off by cars cutting in front of me from the fast lane to take the split onto De Waal Drive, making me brake and swerve. I am surprised by drivers who refuse to follow the one way and drive the wrong way up it because it is shorter. Today I was overtaken by a driver who then stopped in front of me twenty meters later to let out a passenger. In peak hour traffic.
So this is my theory. We behave on our roads like we behave in this country. Everybody is taking the gap. Everybody hates everybody else. Nobody wants to help, negotiate, give a little. Everybody is flammable with rage, ungenerous to fellow drivers, hideously mannered. Everybody is busy blaming somebody else and nobody is taking responsibility. I don’t know what came first, but I know that when there is change we will see it on our roads. I can’t wait.