Drive and Reduce Crime
Hypothesis: Driving properly will lead to a reduction in crime.
Why this Campaign?
We have to instill in every driver the desire to pro-actively reduce crime in South Africa by believing that their
small contribution to driving properly will have a profound effect on their and other people's behaviour.
Written: in November 2002 (rewritten 31st December 2003), Cape Town, South Africa.
At this New Year, my wish is that everyone helps to reduce crime in South Africa. It is something that every single one of us can contribute to and it starts simply by driving properly. These are the rules that I see broken every single day on South African roads:
It seems to me that if a driver disobeys the law and doesn’t get caught then that driver is a ‘good driver.’ He or she now has something to brag about. “Hey, I drove at 150 in an 80 zone and I didn’t get caught. I’m so clever.” If we could simply obey the laws on the road, we would lead South Africa to a less crime ridden society by setting an example on the roads. You are stealing when you drive improperly. You are promoting other people to steal your property and you are promoting still other people to steal your life and highjack you. After all, why should they obey the law if you aren’t?
- Throwing your cigarette butts out of the window -> possibly the biggest cause of fires in South Africa today: Use your ashtray and empty it at home. Throwing things out of your car window can also be dangerous and shows no respect for the other drivers on the roads and no respect for the environment; the world all of us live in.
- Speeding: I drive at the speed limit and I am often the slowest car on the road. Come on people, you are driving a 1 or 2 ton piece of metal at 150km per hour. Can you stop in time? Can you avoid that bird in the road without causing an accident? I think that the problem with ABS (Assisted Braking System) is that suddenly everyone thinks that they can stop in time no matter what speed they are doing. And if they can't stop the airbag will save them. The safety belt is the most important restraint system for reducing both fatalities and other medical complications in accidents. The airbag reduces your risk of dying by about 80% only if the safety belt is also worn. But although there is a bigger chance you will survive if the airbag deploys, there is also a (15%) bigger risk of brain injury resulting, than if the airbag did not deploy. There is also a chance that the air bag will break your ribs (or perhaps even kill you) as it opens at 200km/hr, especially if you are closer than 25cm to the releasing source at the moment of impact. Speeding leads to accidents – and also to stress. Try driving at the speed limit or less and see how less stressed you feel. People will forgive you for arriving late. They won't forgive you if you never arrive because you are killed or have an accident on the way. Better for the project to be slightly late than for the project never to be completed or perhaps to be completed days or months or years late because someone else had to be found.
- Speaking on the cell phone: I have had a number of near misses from people speaking on the cell phone and one accident where someone drove into me whilst speaking on the cell phone. When your phone rings, and you reach to answer it, it might be the last thing you ever do. Think about it.
- Tailgating (driving too close to the person in front of you): This is possibly the worst and most serious offence on our roads and there is absolutely nothing that the car in front of the tailgater can do. If someone is speeding, I can drive slower. If someone is behaving badly in front of me, I can increase my following distance. Tailgating leads to more road rage incidents than any other offence. Maintain a 2 second following distance. You will firstly be at the correct distance behind the car in front of you at all times and secondly if and when the car in front can move over, it will. Note that I will never move over on a left hand bend or on a blind rise where I cannot see what’s over the hill, but in some instances this is where the worst tailgating has happened to me.
- Keep your following distance: It promotes safe driving and leads to less stress and fewer accidents. You should maintain a distance of 2 seconds from the car in front of you. If someone pushes in, maintain a new 2 second distance. When you stop at traffic lights or a stop street, ensure that you can see the bottom of the tyres of the car in front of you. Lots of accidents happen at stop streets and traffic lights.
- Stop before the first line at traffic lights: There are so many people who stop after the lines, in the pedestrian walkway. There are even more people who might stop properly, but who then slowly edge forward expecting the lights to go green and maybe they'll get to their destination quicker if they go through the red light. I have seen a few narrow misses as traffic comes across the lights and nearly hits the car in the incorrect place. I have seen pedestrians almost knocked down because the car was in the wrong place, and other drivers could not see the pedestrian. Come on people. Respect others, and they will respect you.
- If you have just bought a brand new car or drive a Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Jeep, Landrover, or any other car over R150,000 that is less than 3 years old, you can afford a car kit (you are spending at least R3,000 per month on repayments – a car kit is under R2,000 and is once off): Buy one and use it. You are one of our worst offenders because you of all people can afford the car kit, yet you brazenly ignore the law and increase lawlessness and crime in our society.
- Drinking and Driving: You are about to help someone lose a life. You will steal that life. You might cause an accident. You might kill someone. You are disobeying the law.
- Number plates: I often see people without front number plates. If they have just had an accident and the number plate has fallen off, I forgive them, but for the others, it is obvious that you are speeding and disobeying the law. You are stealing from the rest of us. Perhaps our lives, but at the least you are the ones making the roads less safe. My personal opinion is that there should be R2,500 fines for people who don’t have front and/or rear number plates.
- Fog Lights: If it is not foggy then turn off your fog lights, especially your rear fog lights. They are a nuisance and can lead to accidents especially where people think you are braking, then realise you aren’t and then when you actually are braking they don’t notice. Not only that, but they can cause retinal damage for the people following you. You don’t have to prove to everyone that you have fog lights. Turn them off and use them when it is foggy or in an emergency if your other lights aren’t working.
- Drive on the left side of the road and overtake on the right: Even if you are driving at the speed limit, if the left hand lane is empty, drive in the left hand lane. If someone is driving faster than you or if an emergency vehicle needs to get past, it will have space.
- Front head lights: I know that there is currently a campaign to get people to turn on their front head lights during the day, but every single person who I have seen with their lights on during the day has been speeding or disobeying the law in some other way. Some people even have their bright lights on and don’t notice. This is as bad during the day as it is at night. Rather leave your lights off during the day and obey the law of the road.
The laws of the road are there to make the roads safer. We shouldn’t need law enforcement on the roads. Yes, unfortunately in every society we do need law enforcement for all sorts of reasons, but if you are in a car, you have a responsibility to use it effectively and efficiently. If you do this, you will instantly reduce crime in our crime infested country. You will also use less petrol and insurance premiums will come down as traffic accidents automatically reduce in number. By using less petrol our refineries will produce less pollutants and we will import less oil thus improving our exchange rate and our balance of payments.
Everyone (with a licence) has a right to use the road, but everyone has the responsibility to drive properly and not to continuously steal steal steal on the roads. By breaking the law, you are stealing someone else’s possibility of not breaking the law by setting an example. Let’s all set a proper example on the roads in 2004. Let’s all behave like adults on the roads in 2004. We’ll all end up safer; we’ll all still get to work on time; we’ll have fewer accidents, fewer heart attacks and less stress. We’ll feel better and we’ll all be promoting that wonderful ‘Proudly South African’ slogan.
Happy New Year.
31 December 2003
Core Concepts / Hypothesis: 1) Driving our cars properly can lead to a reduction in Crime.
is the owner and managing director of
Orbital Decisions®, an IT and IS
consultancy in Cape Town, South Africa. He holds a Computer Science degree from
the University of Cape Town (South Africa),
a Computer Science Honours degree from Rhodes University in Grahamstown (South Africa),
an MBA from Cranfield University (UK) and a Textile Diploma from
the Cape Town Technicon (South Africa).