Driving on any route in this country nowadays is distressing and downright dangerous. It is with serious concern for my own life and that of my family and friends that I make this statement. We literally take our lives in our hands every time we exit our driveways.
Recently a colleague and I drove from Pretoria to Bothaville, where overtaking despite solid lines seemed to be a very commonplace thing to do – as was excessive speeding and near-collision tailgating.
In Gauteng, where our magazine’s team drive daily, as well as in KwaZulu- Natal and the Cape, where TRUCKS & Heavy Equipment correspondents and co-workers travel, it’s the same story – total disregard for the law, impatience, intolerance and even anger.
Some drivers suffer from a mental disorder, a kind of ‘road mania’
Make no mistake, this behaviour has been observed in drivers of all classes of vehicles – from trucks, coaches, bakkies, 4x4s, small cars, and bigger cars to fast cars. It seems as if some drivers suffer from a mental disorder, a kind of ‘road mania’, as their behaviour can only be described as illogical and irrational.
Where is law enforcement?
If anyone can correct the lawless and reckless behaviour of some drivers, it is the various traffic departments and traffic law enforcement agencies. However, it is plain that the ratio of traffic officials and vehicles visibly providing the necessary regulatory enforcement levels, as per the volume of vehicles using the roads, is out of balance.
While I’ve personally observed traffic officers doing their work (as pictured with this article) on arterial roads,
along urban routes and freeways, their presence is far too insignificant and infrequent. Either the various traffic law enforcement bodies are understaffed, under resourced or incorrectly deployed.
We have a decent road regulatory system in this country, where some fleet operators may claim that we have too much legislation, and overlapping, unclear laws. Be that as it may, the accident rate in South Africa remains amongst the highest in the world, despite having roads which are better than many countries with a lower collision record. This can only be attributed to driver and road user (pedestrian) behaviour.
Force bad drivers off the road by enforcing the law; and in the case of commercial drivers, dismiss them if the offence warrants it.
Good drivers can do better. Go for an Advanced Defensive Driving course every three or four years – it’s fun, as I found out earlier this year – and it sharpens your driving skills.
Force bad drivers off the road by enforcing the law
Also learn to accept the traffic situation as you find it – whether you’re standing still on the N1 in rush-hour traffic or being late for a commercial delivery. No illegal manoeuvre or action is going to get you ahead in the traffic. Rather take a deep breath, listen to the radio, think of family or friends, and smile – these will make anyone’s adrenalin level drop.