Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Garth Rattray | Resolve to be a coward driver

Published:Monday | January 1, 2018 | 12:35 AM

It's the beginning of yet another year. The count for road deaths during 2018 has begun. Many drivers consider themselves ‘skilful’ and ‘brave’ if and when they get away with risky and sometimes dangerous manoeuvres on the roads. But, they confuse bravery with fearlessness; the truth of the matter is, they are totally opposite. A brave person sees that there is danger, perceives it as being serious enough to elicit fear and then, if necessary, he/she acts in spite of that fear.

On the other hand, a fearless person usually does not perceive any danger. Perhaps he/she is not capable of recognising the obvious or he/she is just too stupid to see it for what it is. Sometimes the fearless person sees and understands that there is danger, but he/she feels that it is not a threat to him/her. He/she may think that the danger is to others but, whatever the reason, he/she feels absolutely no fear and therefore acts out of ignorance. That is not bravery, that is foolhardiness.

When it comes to driving, I have no shame in expressing that I am one of the biggest cowards out there. I don’t only perceive danger, I look for it constantly. If it is a threat to me or to anyone else, I do my best to act accordingly. The other day, as I was leaving an area designated for vending, I thought that I saw something moving between the parked cars. Being a ‘coward’ on the lookout for danger, I wondered if it was my imagination or an animal or a person … so I slowed to a crawl. Lo and behold, as I crept by the parked cars, a little boy darted out into the driveway. A fearless person would likely have run right over him.

INVENTED NEW RULES

Obviously, the rules of the roads do not apply to most people driving public passenger vehicles or to those who pattern their horrendous and dangerous driving practices. In order to ‘eat a food’, they have not only flouted existed rules designed for the safety of everyone using the roadways, they have invented new rules. We all see them forming illegal lanes on Red Hills Road and Hagley Park Road; we see them doing the same on Molynes Road and Elizabeth Avenue. In fact, they invent lanes whenever they encounter long lines of traffic. If you see them coming towards you or attempting to squeeze in front of you, allow the hogs to go ahead. Yield all your rights on the road … it’s not worth your vehicle, your time or your life.

If you are on a narrow, twoway road and there’s something parked on the opposite side of the road, 99 per cent of the time, the person approaching is a perfect fool who will swerve on to your side of the road and steer straight for you. Fearless (foolhardy) ignoramuses don’t care about the commonsense rules of the road, which state that he/she ‘must’ yield unless he/she is driving a commercialsized truck going up or down a hill. You need to yield because they will injure or kill you!

BE PREPARED

Always tap your brake pedal to keep tailgaters at bay. Anticipate drivers sailing through stop signs and running the red lights. Look out for other drivers to overtake long lines of traffic and large, slowmoving vehicles. Be prepared for illegal (robot) or route taxis to stop anywhere and any time for any potential passenger. Besides overtaking illegally, forming their own lanes, entering ‘turning only’ lanes and forcing themselves to the front of traffic lines, they have a very nasty habit of flying past you and then suddenly cutting in front of you to stop and drop off or pick up passengers.

Pedal cyclistsand motorcyclists do not usually stop at stop signs or red lights … look out for them. Goats show more sense and restraint when crossing the roads than many pedestrians …anticipate them.

We can’t change those imbecilic road hogs. The discipline on our roads has deteriorated significantly and is irretrievable. It’s only going to get worse, and there will never be enough police to enforce the rules. So, be hypervigilant, yield and give up your right of way. It’s a new year, resolve to be a coward driver; I’m proud to say that I am one.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com garthrattray@gmail.com.