On lawlessness…

Timothy left this comment on the blog today:

South Africans are LAWLESS. Every day my jaw drops at, in particular, our driving. No indicating, hogging the fast lane, parking anywhere, no servicing and billowing smoke out the back etc etc.
I often wonder what goes on (or doesn’t) in these people’s minds. Is it deliberate, or pure ignorance, or a heady mix?

And I wrote this some time ago:

the laws are there, but the fact that they’re just not enforced means that the driving public feel that they don’t have to obey them.

These facts have been proven further to me on the roads over the last few days.

Firstly, an unsecured toddler on the back seat of a Mazda 323. No, this isn’t a good thing, but sadly it’s something we’re well used to here in SA. So picture my delight when a traffic police car pulls out behind said Mazda. And then picture my disgust when said traffic police officer interacted with the Mazda, not by stopping it and fining the driver to high heaven, but by waving to the child through the back windscreen.

And then today, after a massive road smash on the M5 this evening – one car on its roof on the central reservation – tow trucks, fire engines, ambulances everywhere – and the traffic police, standing by, but not actually doing anything because right then, it was all about the other emergency services doing their thing. Fair enough.

All of which meant that the traffic police officer had plenty of time to chat the incident with the cyclist who had pulled over. I hope it all worked out ok. And it was kind of weird to see a traffic officer and a cyclist discussing… hey… hang on a second. Cyclists aren’t allowed to cycle on the M5 – where were the traffic officers while this conversation was going… hey… hang on a second – they were talking with him.

I don’t think that I need to add much of a conclusion here. Even the more intellectually-challenged of my readers can see where I’m going with this. When even the police don’t give a damn, we have a problem.

Frankly, I’m rather depressed by the whole thing.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, in France

14 thoughts on “On lawlessness…

  1. We really do have a problem. I believe it started with the mini-bus taxis – when it became clear that they were getting away with just about anything on the roads, the general public followed suit and now we have an absolute free for all.

  2. I was thinking the exact same thing when stuck in the traffic jam left by the truck accident at the Koeberg intersection this evening.
    Cops standing and watching all the cars stream past in the outer 2 lanes then cut in across the painted reservation.

  3. The funny thing is, everyone you ever speak to complains about everyone else not obeying the rules or driving like a douche which has led me to simply believe everyone is a crap driver and we should all be walking.

    And don’t forget, those traffic cops work at least one month a year – in December when they’re trying to meet their quotas.

  4. Yet the day after my car licence expires I get pinged R500. Soft targets nailed, but no stopping the real dangerous transgressors.

    I have noticed the following becoming prevalent: No stopping behind line at stop signs and robots, edging into intersections at red robots, driving into intersections without clear exit… All either dangerous or creating more traffic.

    Such bull.

  5. Hanlie > Not sure I’d necessarily agree with the taxi thing, but certainly the basis that people see others getting away with things and thing “why not me?”, works.

    Reflex > Hmm. Toughie there, cos those two lanes were well blocked. People had to get back across. No clue how that accident happened. How do you jack-knife a truck on a straight bit of highway?

    T > What we’re forgetting is that Cape Town drivers owe about R1bn in fines. All of which doesn’t go into the city coffers, but directly to traffic policing and road safety. And yet people tweet and share roadblock locations, then moan about there not being enough law enforcement. (Not that the law enforcement that is there does much good, anyway) (see above).

    WildThing > Indeed. And I see those two examples above as being like a baby springbok being placed in front of a big, fat, hungry lion. When the lion does nothing about that, why would anyone not feel safe poking it and calling it Tiddles?

  6. What we need are motorcycle cops well versed in the law. The should be able to issue summary judgement on any transgressions that they witness, including traffic offences. Should the perp need more than a fine, they can be chained to a post waiting for a wagon to take them off to the iso-cubes.

    We should call these combination law enforcement / judges / sentencers by the short name of Judges. Issue them with standard firearms / lawgivers.

    They will be the law.

  7. It is a depressing trend indeed.

    Unfortunately it is something that cannot be fixed by more policemen, more cameras or more roadblocks. It is something ingrained in our “culture” for want of a better word.

    We need base level campaigns to teach people a bit of respect for the general environment around them. Be it throwing cigarettes out the window, jumping a stop street, boo-ing at the Rugby (you like that too right?) littering on public property, defacing property.

    It is unfortunately more than just a traffic problem – it is a general lawlessness due to a lack of caring.

    Capetonians have some respect.

  8. What you atheists fail to grasp, is that Jesus is looking after these God-fearing-offenders.

  9. The truck quite possibly jack-knifed because it was avoiding a car cutting in from the outer 2 lanes or it was cutting in from the outer 2 lanes.
    If everyone had been law-abiding and stuck to the inner 2 lanes then they could have filtered into the yellow lane when reaching the accident.
    My 2c anyways.

    I think what was worse was the bakkie that had been in an accident further up.
    There had been children in the bakkie and they were all allowed to cram into the tow truck cab with not enough seatbelts to go around.
    All under police supervision.

  10. R1bn in unpaid fines? Small wonder JP was so blase the other day about getting an increased revenue from fines in the 2012/13 financial year. When you’ve got that much revenue lying around waiting to be collected, getting a couple more million isn’t going to be all that hard!

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