I realise that quite some time back I missed the memo when it was announced that STOP signs were henceforth to be treated as a YIELD. What I fail to grasp is why so many South Africans consider it clever or perhaps ‘cool’ to deliberately disobey this simplest and possibly most important rule of the road, STOP. I understand that the present phenomenon is described by some or other psychological theory – something to do with sheep and incalculable stupidity I would imagine…
In the area where we live there are, inter alia, two occasions when anyone aware of these new ‘road rules’ needs to be especially vigilant. The first is on Sundays when church congregations flee their sixty minutes of weekly piety. They manner in which they ignore the STOP signs in their rush to get away is quite beyond belief – but I have to assume that it is due to a need to get out there and spread the word of God. On more reasoned and cynical consideration, however, I would hazard a guess that it’s rather a need to get out there and spread the lunchtime barbecue rolls. Clearly modern religious practice has lost sight of the “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” clause? In many countries of the world, not stopping at a STOP sign is a ‘lock up and go’ offence – the authorities lock you up and go off to catch another moron equally lacking in compassion for his or her fellow man. Do this in Norway and you could end up down the passage from Anders Breivik.
The second danger period occurs shortly after schools close, especially the junior variety. I have lost count of the number of times that a paragon of motherly virtue, in her late-model ‘mommy-wagon’, flies through an intersection with hardly a pause. Such inexplicable idiocy, and lack of any semblance of social ethics, is often compounded by the driver being on her mobile phone and/or with unrestrained small children in the vehicle. On a couple of occasions I attempted drawing attention (let’s call it ‘constructive criticism’) to the fact that a collision was narrowly avoided, by hooting at said ‘mother’. I don’t do this anymore – as the sound of hooting seems to precipitate some form of finger cramp, resulting in the driver having no hands on the wheel – the phone in one and cramp in the other (“Mommy, what does that sign you are making mean…?”).
Here’s an example: CFM 32058 making a high speed run through the 3-way Stop intersection at Mountain and Gordon Roads, Somerset West. She then makes off at very high speed – well over the urban limit – and disappears momentarily from sight, only to get held up at the next intersection… (just for the record she was not on her way to the hospital, she ducked away into Bizweni).
The air in South Africa is currently permeated with recently dusted off and warmed up election manifesto ‘promises’. One I would like to hear would focus on the aforementioned problem – to the extent that it would advocate a change in the law that made not stopping a ‘suspension of drivers license for six months minimum’ offence. Command and control is what is needed here, there is no leeway for waiting for society to heal itself.