Tuesday 9 July 2013
A lil bit of a rant ahead, so for those of you not wanting to read it, there are plenty of other fascinating posts on here, find yourself one and read that. 😉
So, I live in an area where one of the roads leading to town has acquired a terrible reputation. There have been a lot of accidents on it, a number of them fatalities, and as such, every year discussions issue forth about fixing the road quality. It has recently been moved and widened – that’s right, the road was moved from where it had been for decades, and it was elevated as well – in an attempt to help prevent road deaths. The next step in attempting to reduce the road toll along this road is, allegedly and as I understand the proposal, to remove some of what have been labelled, the more treacherous curves and bends. That’s correct: the road is going to be straightened out so that drivers can travel more safely.
At this point, I want to get across that a good number of years ago when I was in my first year of studying at university, I drove the inferior quality road twice every weekend when I came back in to town from the city. Leaving the city on a Thursday afternoon to come back home, I’d often be driving that alleged treacherous stretch of road at night (particularly in winter when the days were shorter), and then I’d made the trip back to the city on a Sunday afternoon. Every weekend for a year, I made that trip. I knew that road like the back of my hand and were it not a ridiculous thing to suggest, I conceivably could have driven it blindfolded.
Here’s the important clause in the statement: not once, not ever whilst driving that road did I find myself in difficulty, nor did I perceive it to be a terrible stretch of road.
But, with so many local youths, young adults, and people who might not have had as much experience driving that road finding themselves in difficulty and, unfortunately, dying in car accidents on that road, there has been a campaign to have the road, for want of a better word, fixed. However, in my opinion, the quality of the road plays only a minor role in these accidents and fatalities. Remember, I drove this road years ago when it was worse than it is today, and I drove it twice a weekend, every weekend, for twelve months.
In recent years, travelling back and forth, I’ve noticed that it’s not the road that is at issue in these tragedies, it’s the road users. That’s right, I’m placing blame at the fault of the people who drive the on the road, not entirely the road itself. When you drive like an idiot, when you drive above the speed limit, what the f*$k do you expect if you lose control of your vehicle? When you don’t utilise the adequate overtaking lanes (okay, we all know that more overtaking lanes would be wonderful) to pass vehicles, and you drive into oncoming traffic, do you seriously expect that you’re going to make it back in to your correct lane in time every time? At some point, you’re going to have a near miss and frighten the crap out of your fellow road users.
An example that springs to mind is that of a driver who overtook me recently. This person works out of town and was clearly going to be late to work . . . I know this because I know a) where she works, b) at what time she’s expected to be at work, and c) that at the time she overtook my vehicle, she was already running late. My vehicle entered the overtaking lane at speed (100 km/h) and, let’s call her S, S was at least three car lengths behind me. She appeared to have no intention of using the lane to overtake . . . until the sign that indicated that the overtaking lane ended in a few hundred metres. At this point, S decided to overtake but was barely moving and was most definitely not doing the speed limit of 100 km/h . . . until the overtaking lane ended. It was here that S decided that, due to the approaching oncoming traffic, her best option was to veer towards my vehicle, force me off of the road into the gravel, and speed off without checking on my welfare. Yep, you read it correctly, she veered her car towards mine, forcing me to either remain where I was and have my car hit hers or move out of the way. Now, my initial thought was to decelerate and let the insane driver go by, but she had drastically reduced her speed (perhaps due to the shock of seeing the oncoming traffic, I don’t know) so my deceleration essentially did nothing effective to prevent what was a messy situation. And she wonders why I won’t wave to her!!
Then when I consider my fellow road users and how they drive, or rather hoon, up and down that particular road, well . . . it’s more a driver issue than a road issue. But, because we live in an era where things need to be fixed because incompetent people can get their driver’s licence, we will soon suffer the rubbish that goes with roadworks on a massive scale.
So, here’s my theory . . . oh, come on, you knew I had a theory about all of this . . . I think we need more police patrols on the highway, and people who operate vehicles need to think about how they want to end up and if they have enough intestinal fortitude to live a life knowing that they’ve killed or maimed others through their poor driving. There you go, I’ve said it. I’ve put it out there: there are a number of people who categorically should not be allowed to drive because they are morons on the road. Personally, if I know I’ve got an appointment out of town, I get up a lil earlier, I leave home a lil earlier, I drive within the speed limit, and I really, really like arriving at my destination alive.
But perhaps these risk takers are too egocentric or arrogant to consider the lives of others. Maybe that’s why they have no issue with their driving, why they feel it’s okay to overtake at inappropriate points on the road whilst oncoming traffic hurtles towards them. I don’t know. What I do know is that the road is only partly to blame for the fatalities that my lil town has experienced on the roads, and a great portion of that blame lies squarely at the feet of the road users.
So, perhaps instead of realigning, re-elevating, re-whatevering the road, a more suitable option would be to police the road, the road users, and clamp down on the idiots who endanger all of us.