Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

South Africa: a driver’s POV

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.


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  1. ReallyThinkAboutIt

    Generally, I would be very quick to agree, and you do make valid points. Ironically, plenty of people must’ve felt exactly the same about my driving behaviour.

    Thing about it is, that usually irony is amusing, but in my case, not so much; About two months ago I took the life of another man, a pedestrian. Without going into detail, I could not have been a more law-abiding driver at the time.

    Just following the law, isn’t necessarily enough to ensure road safety it turns out.

    I am nowadays, what I believe to be a “considerate” driver. Now, I frustrate other drivers on the road, because I keep to speed limits or stay below them, I stay calm and focused when driving, and allow frustrated drivers extra space, leeway at the circle etc., hoping they will calm down and maybe save a life in return for the one I took.

    Nowadays, when I go to bed, I see every pedestrian’s face I passed that day, scrolling through them like a horror Facebook album.

    Following the rules, relying on your excellent driving skills and your spotless record, simply isn’t enough to keep death of the road.

    I hope that you are wrong about the likeness of Saffas’ driving behaviour and our general behaviour in this country. Otherwise we’re in for a terribly rough and bloody road.

  2. megan

    I am so saddened by your horrible story. And, if it’s any consolation, I wasn’t being flip, or ironic. Although it’s obviously not the case in your situation, my worry is that it needs a hideous thing to happen to people to change their attitude, and even then, it is the vicious cycle of reckless behaviour that makes victims of the guilty and the innocent alike. I guess the point I was trying to make is that our attitudes on the road reflect how we treat each other generally.

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