The circus is in town

The circus is in town

Ever seen one of those posters that reads: “Common sense: so rare it should be a super power”? No? I don’t think many South African drivers have, either.

There are two things I am passionate about, above all else, when it comes to my favourite thing in the whole world – motoring. The first is the ability to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and drive. Neither the vehicle, nor the destination, matters; it’s the journey that counts.

Top down, cruising in a sexy two-seat roadster: heavenly. Driving a mountain pass in a nippy hot hatch: pure nirvana. Tackling an off-road trail to nowhere in a 4×4: blissful. Going head-to-head in a bus-manoeuvrability challenge on the Kyalami grand-prix circuit (on a fun day out with Mercedes-Benz): exciting. Driving in South Africa: a joke …

The problem, you see, is I adhere to speed limits and give right-of-way. I also don’t hog the fast lane on the highway, thus forcing other drivers to “undertake”. I sit in stationary traffic, when it would be much more convenient to nip down the emergency lane. I don’t overload my vehicle, no matter what I might be transporting and ensure my passengers always wear their seatbelts. Good, safe, courteous common-sense behaviour …

This leads me neatly on to my second passion within my little world that is motoring: road safety. Regular readers will know that I like to write about road safety quite a lot. The reason is everything I’ve just mentioned, plus a whole lot more.

Take, for instance, the little lady I recently saw out with her two pooches for a Sunday drive in her station wagon – just the three of them, getting away from it all. The two poodles – one black, one white – were standing with their heads out of the window and taking pleasure in their ears flapping in the wind, as any dog should. (It is truly the simple things that make life worth living …).

There was one problem, though. The two carefree canines were not in the back of the wagon, as would have been sensible. They were not on the back seat, as would have been acceptable. They were not on the front passenger seat either, as would have been daft and unsafe. No, they were standing on their equally carefree owner’s lap; both their heads sticking out her window as she drove merrily forth. There’s no other way of putting it – she must’ve been insane.

It was little wonder that she promptly ran a just-changed-to-red robot. I highly doubt she was able to see directly in front of her. She certainly couldn’t see much to her side. I’m not sure how she managed to turn the steering wheel. It was only the fact that the dogs weren’t actually driving that stopped me from thinking the circus had come to town.

I guess that’s the problem with a lot of the drivers on our roads – they act as though they’re circus performers. How many kids can we squeeze onto the back of that bakkie? How high can we pack the trailer before it becomes unstable? Once it does become unstable, how far can we drive until it causes a crash? With how many dogs on our laps can we drive?

There’s no common sense. It’s all a bit of a joke.

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