By Garth A. Rattray
The slaughter on our roads is unnecessary, sad and frightening. Once again, schoolchildren died on public buses that are their primary means of affordable transport. They are supposed to be as safe as humanly possible. Instead, the drivers of these vehicles often race one another to cram as many bodies into their death traps as they can in order to earn as much as they can.
This sort of behaviour is now manifestly common all across our island. This hitherto unthinkable level of indiscipline on our roads has been adopted by many drivers. I used to get very upset at the road hogs (I call them the porcine crew) and even occasionally attempt to secure my right of way but, eventually, I gladly acquiesced because it just is not worth it.
I surrender, I give in ... the porcine crew has won. I no longer react to their verbal assaults and impatient honking horns. Now, I see them as porcine cartoon characters with cotton for brains behind the wheel. No longer do their colourful expletives penetrate; now all I hear is, "Grunt, snort, oink, oink, oink, squeal." O, blessed day!
My desensitisation could not have come at a better time. I'm at the age that I need to reduce stress. Now, when a road hog believes that I am holding him up because I am waiting cautiously at a stop sign and he lets loose a barrage of profanities, I can barely hear the grunts and oinks behind me.
For the first time in my 40 years of driving, those horny hogs no longer cause me distress. I have adopted a calm demeanour when driving on the roads; after all, hogs will be hogs.
For safety's sake, I extended my submission to the way that I drive. I now drive very defensively. If a road hog decides to overtake a long line of traffic from the opposite direction and head straight for me (as road hogs very often do), I flash my lights once to alert him to the danger while I apply my brakes and turn away from him towards the left (the soft shoulder, if there is one).
And, whenever a member of the porcine crew decides to bore (perhaps that should be 'boar') his way in front of me by cutting the line, I do not attempt to close the gap and risk damage to the vehicle or to myself. I simply relent, because road hogs are never worth it.
Now, I expect members of the porcine crew to hitch up right behind me, speed excessively, swerve in and out of traffic and to change lanes suddenly so I keep a watchful eye and give them lots of space. I also expect them to disobey road markings, stop signs and traffic lights without warning and at any time of day or night.
If a member of the porcine crew tailgates me, I tap my brake pedal lightly and rapidly to signal my discomfort and alert him to the danger of his illegal proximity to my treasured rear end. If that fails (as it does sometimes), I slow down and signal him to overtake.
It's time that we all surrender to the porcine crew and protect ourselves instead. In doing so, we will adopt a self-preservative mindset and survive our hostile streets.
The police are stretched by our extraordinary indiscipline so I still hold out hope that the powers that be will seriously consider deputising civilians who can be outfitted with dash cams (a good one costs only about US$60) and whose recorded evidence can carry as much legal weight as those cameras mounted at some traffic lights. The anonymity of the observers will result in cautious driving and save lives over time.
Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.