Is it justified for law-abiding citizens to react to incidents on the road and engage full rage mode? asks Dr Tendani Matoro.
WHAT can drive a reasonably sane man to a breaking point after some minutes of being on the road? How do you explain the behaviour of that one driver who appears to have all the time in the world?
One who evidently follows your around while you mind your own business. The non-stop hooting can also signal that you are in for a surprise.
We all sometimes lose our cool as we commute through the busy streets or freeways. Where do we draw the line though?
I recently encountered a gentleman racing in a twin-cab “bakkie”, carrying unstrapped children in the back seat.
He almost spoiled my day when he forcefully cut in front of me without signalling.
He swiftly moved from the fast lane, into my slow lane as he tried zig-zaging to overtake a car in front of him.
I’m still thankful for ABS, as my harsh braking prevented a collision. It was at that point that I wondered what could have happened to the children in his car and my passengers if things had gone south.
Let’s just say my better half arrested the “Hulking” transformation I was about to show the irresponsible driver. I hope his poor kids reached their destination safely. It seems he continued driving like a donkey’s behind.
What can trigger road rage? Is it justified for law-abiding citizens to react and engage full rage mode?
The Mall of the North Traffic Lights
Ever driven from Bolivia lodge to mall of the north (in Polokwane, Limpopo Province)? Try turning left onto the R81 at the mall “robots”. On a normal day, you will quickly learn how right of way is not observed at this crossroad. You will be lucky if you join the R81 (which later becomes Munnik avenue) heading towards Thornhill shopping centre without a near-miss from cars turning right from the mall.
If you are a chronic fast lane hoarder, beware. Flashing lights and rear-bumper-hit intimation stunts will be your daily bread. You might think and believe that since you are at the highest possible legal speed for that lane, you are safe. Unfortunately, it is not up to you and me to control the speed of other cars. We can simply stay in a slower lane and let the speedsters pass.
I have witnessed people using the yellow lane for overtaking what they consider slow moving cars or lane hoarders. Just when I thought I had seen it all, I saw a man who parked uphill by the yellow lane just to relieve himself of nature’s call. His hazard lights were off and he had plenty of gravel road on the side to utilise for his seemingly much needed relief.
How many of us have been coerced to yield at a stop sign because the guy (or lady) driving behind us came flying with no intentions of merely slowing down? I had someone overtake me at a stop sign just last month. I was thankful that he spare me! There is an increasing trend of people yielding at 4 way stops disregarding the arrival-drive off order.
Based on how people proceed around and through traffic circles, one can postulate which individuals never read a K53 leaner’s manual. The driver’s licence past paper system products will bump you if you get in their way; even if you had a right of way.
These are some risky behaviours that people are constantly doing on our roads without much regard for the next person. During the festive season, we already have more cars than average on our roads. If some of these habits continue, our chances of fatal road accidents will definitely increase. Here are some tips and hints for driving around not only this December, but on a daily basis as well.
The Magic Stick
On the side of your steering wheel, you should identify this super helpful stick that assists the driver behind with your turning intentions before you even start swinging your steering wheel. Isn’t that a relief knowing that someone has shared with magic stick with all of us? This indicator stick can also help others around a traffic circle read your mind. It can help them know which direction you are headed; through or around the circle.
This bit of simple technology and invention has been blamed for many crimes on and off the road. Males think women use it for the wrong reasons whilst driving. Women think men never consult it before changing lanes. Car mirror work well when used with indicators and a full blind spot observation.
If you find yourself constantly at fault; not a week goes by without people screaming at you or complaining about your driving, maybe you should revisit the code. K53 manuals can be found in a number of stores. Road safety features, road rules, road signs and defensive driving tips are in this manual.
This festive season, remember the Magic Words-
Safe Following Distance: If black Friday didn’t teach you anything about this one, you probably didn’t go out shopping. Bumper to bumper driving isn’t much of a thing in Limpopo. Our traffic congestion lasts a few minutes at most, usually. It is understandable why some of our drivers are still shaky during traffic jams. Keep enough space between you and the car in front to allow stopping on time. Consider a wide distance with decreased visibility, on a wet road, with a loaded car or if your car brakes or tyres are worn out.
Traffic Jam Patience: Everyone on the road has somewhere to go. Some emergency workers are in more of a hurry than the rest. If you find yourself stuck on the N1 heading home this December (or driving back to work after the festive season), practise patience. Some accidents seem to occur where barrier lines are crossed and one tries to pass multiple cars without any guarantee of making it to the other side of the long row of cars.
Know your Ride: This does not apply to how far you think a low fuel tank will get you. Keep your car roadworthy especially when travelling longer distances. Car leaks, seatbelts, mirrors, wiper blades, tyres (thread and pressure), headlights, water, oil and brake fluid level are part of the Arrive Alive (AA) pre-trip inspection checklist. Do not forget your registration disc licence and your driver’s licence.
Some road accidents are preventable. We can all put an end to unnecessary lives lost. The cost of motor vehicle accidents on the health sector, road and traffic department and the government at large will keep increasing if we still see ourselves as exempted from following the set road rules. Let’s legally share the road space we travel on and arrive alive.
Dr Tendani Matoro is Medical Doctor (MBChB, UCT), General Practitioner (Polokwane), Clinical Advisor (Advanced Clinical Care HIV/AIDS and TB), Social Commentator (News24 and WordPress Blog) and Medical Columnist (Weekly Publications in African Times Newspaper)