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E-tolls, road rage and other motorists

04.08.2014

ASK any motorist about the stress that comes with the daily commute – it’s almost unbearable! Traffic, road works and road rage are all factors we now have to deal with before even getting to work.

I recently saw a road rage video doing its rounds (it’s on our Facebook page if you would like to view it) whereby a man climbs out of his vehicle and violently kicks the window of the car next to him. It’s not a pretty sight and drastically reduces your faith in humanity. Luckily he turned himself in and we will be following this story closely.

If fellow motorists can totally disregard other people, how are we supposed to feel safe on our roads?  I’ll admit, I don’t know the background story surrounding the road rage incident that recently occurred and in any event, there’ll always be different sides to the story. However, I can’t imagine any situation where I would be so angry that I’d climb out my vehicle and start smashing another person’s car.

I’ve read citizens’ comments on the matter and it seems as though South Africans are really concerned about the state of our nation and the way in which we treat one another. It does give the impression that the longer we sit in traffic, the more angered we become. That said, the sense of entitlement many motorists feel - especially taxis, when it comes to right of way and the rules of the road - leaves much to be desired.

It’s strange, because while incidents of road rage exist and the fact that motorists continually fight for their space on the road, we’ve somehow managed to come together in an all-out effort to fight e-tolls.

It was recently announced that over R1 billion in e-tolls is outstanding by Gauteng motorists who are refusing to pay the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral). The system has only been operational for a few months and the already high bill should leave anyone opposed to e-tolling with a rather large smile on their face. The high level of non-payment highlights that motorists are certainly rejecting the system vehemently.

It’s estimated that not even 40 percent of Gauteng motorists are actually paying their e-toll bill and with only around 700 000 registered e-tag users (which Outa believes are used by some 2.5 million motorists), the system looks doomed to fail.

In fact, some are reporting that e-tolling is on its last legs, as it were, after the original target of 93 percent compliance hadn’t been reached. Friends who have been ‘tagged’ have reportedly received calls from collection agencies, who don’t seem to put up much of a fight when told where to get off. Bless them. It must be a horrid job working for Sanral at the moment, when almost the entire Gauteng province and South Africa, as a whole, despise the very company that employs you. Tembakazi Mnyaka, the chairperson of Sanral, resigned last week in rather out-of-the-blue circumstances.

But there does seem to be light at the end of this tunnel after the review committee was established about a month ago. Many believe the tolling panel has liberated those commuters who were paying, as they now ‘de-tag’ themselves, while they wait for the outcome of the e-toll panel. Of course this is disastrous news for Sanral as its e-toll payments dwindle and the number of non-payers continues to rise.

It’s a small victory for motorists’ camaraderie but you can’t help feeling that if we exercised the same spirit and disdain towards road rage, we could make our streets safer.

I feel sorry for any learner driver, because one mistake could result in rude hand gestures or worse… fists and weapons!

Stay safe out there. We want to know if you’ve been a victim of road rage and how you coped with it.

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Article written by Stuart Moir
04.08.2014
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