I experience this the other night while pulling away from an intersection. It saved my life!
I was driving a 1.2-litre turbocharged car, which tends to suffer from turbo lag on pull off. As I pulled away the car was just about dead as I didn’t give it enough juice. In the amount of time it took to build boost, a taxi decided to jump the red light at speed, right in front of me, missing me by a few metres. As he passed me, the car’s boost came into play and it jolted forward. If it came into boost three seconds sooner, I would’ve been in serious trouble.
Eventually, after some harsh words and a sigh of relief, I started thinking about how bad some South Africans drive. We are all guilty of things that we consider to be small and harmless but we forget there could be dramatic consequences. I’ve made a list of things that really infuriate me:
The line drivers
Why do so many drivers think it's okay to drive on the line? Cars are not that big, you know. Stay within your lane. Driving on the line and sometimes crossing the line can cause some serious issues for other drivers. For example, if you start wandering out of your lane and into oncoming traffic you could end up being involved in a critical accident. So, pay attention and stay within the lines.
The orange-light jumpers
Next time you stop at a red traffic light, have a look at the people around you and you’ll notice that almost all of them are looking at the opposite set of lights, waiting for the orange light. The moment it turns orange they set off; by the time it's green they’re already at the other end of the intersection. It seems like a smart move until you consider the fact that there is someone else on the other side of the road thinking that they are going to jump the orange light. Many accidents happen, on a daily basis, because of this impatience. Just wait for the green light - wait longer if you have to! Trying to save three seconds could end your life.
Stick to the speed limit
Please, stick to the speed limit. I'm not talking to those who think it's okay to drive over the limit but to those who think it's okay to drive below it. If the limit is 100km/h, please, don't travel at 60km/h. You hold up other road users, you become an irritation and in doing that, you cause people to become impatient, which leads to them making stupid and reckless overtaking manoeuvres. If for some reason you or your vehicle cannot stick to or reach the speed limit, pull over, move off of the road and seek assistance.
It is shocking how many people do not know what this road sign means. I was once pulled over by a traffic officer because I didn’t stop at a red traffic light; I pointed out that it was a yield sign. The officer didn’t even know what the sign meant!
A yield sign is a triangle with a white background and a red border with a black arrow. It means, you must allow traffic that’s already at the intersection or close to it, go first. Stop if necessary and only go when the way is clear. For example, if you get to an intersection and you plan to turn left, yet the light is red, yet it is a yield, you can move forward. You do not have to wait for the traffic light to change to green. So, please, pay attention to the signs at the intersection.
These are just a few issues that I’ve with people on our roads. Check your mirrors, keep left and drive at the correct speed limit. Be aware that there are inconsiderate, arrogant and incompetent drivers out there. Take extra care when driving and be alert. Get off of your phone - that message can wait! Think about the 'what ifs' before skipping that red light.