#30 ~ Compliance to traffic rules benefits society not individuals

Female driver is drunk with two children in the back seat.

After a few minutes they came to collect her from the scene bringing her doctor in to say “she was not feeling well and was vomiting”.

She violated my right of way and drove into an oncoming car. I turned after she took my turn and saw the crash through my blindspot midway. Her family collected the children. At which point we said she can’t do that: “what children?” was her response. It was shocking to see her intoxicating eyes spell manipulative intentions. She knew the law. I stood there as a witness, observing compelled to react but that would tamper with the scene even more.

A scene to remember. Snapshot of the crash highlights the danger of the intersection and also the urgency to change the corridor. More activity and development result in more conflict points and higher probabilities of accidents. Not planning for the changes in activity patterns results in changes in desire lines. That’s to say people behave differently from the way the roadway was intended for.

After a few minutes they came to collect her from the scene bringing her doctor in to say “she was not feeling well and was vomiting”. Everyone at the scene saw her leave without vomit. At no point did the oath taking doctor examine her. He stood there with his son, cigarette at hand and said “tell me what happened, I’m here on my patient’s behalf”. By the time the police came the driver had fled the scene. She was a white Afrikaner.


The other family in the car that was hit have no other cars.

From the data I’m navigating through many African headed households seem to only gain access to private cars much later in their lives as compared to white headed households.

They also don’t have a doctor on call, or someone who could come in and stage a line of defense. No one of their relatives could come driving to support them emotionally or structurally through the situation. When the driver’s daughter said: “and this car is new; we don’t have any other means of transport” she said something painful. They were en-route to picking up a family member who was tired of waiting for public transport. The taxi just took too long. The dad, who was driving, argued that “I hope it’s not a right-off, we’ve worked hard to get it and there’s so much to do”. Here’s a sober man, driving his new car with pride and joy to serve his family.

Does the privilege of owning a number of cars and access to social capital justify the manipulation of a truth weighted with a cost to the perpetrators but a benefit to society?

This is probably their first family car. From the data I’m navigating through many African headed households seem to only gain access to private cars much later in their lives as compared to white headed households. A number of factors contribute to this but I won’t discuss them now. I much rather focus on the stark nature of the two scenes above. These are based on an accident I personally witnessed.

This family could not avoid nor protect themselves from how the scene was tampered with. Without escalating the complexity of the events. Police officers seemed powerless as the so called doctor claimed that no one was answering their phones in an attempt to lure the driver back. Perhaps a broader sense of hopelessness comes from these tensions.


Imagine your wife, drunk and driving a short trip with your children at the back seat: would you want her to go to prison without you making a plan to protect her vulnerabilities? Does the privilege of owning a number of cars and access to social capital justify the manipulation of a truth weighted with a cost to the perpetrators but a benefit to society? Will the court case be worthwhile and affordable enough to compensate for justice to be served? In a society with such deep tensions, small lapses in ethics reflect humanity and sucks the goodness out of what we call fairness. Fairness becomes relative, and relativity can not be commonly applied everywhere with the kind reckless political correctness plaguing social norms today. Policy makers in the transport sector have to dive deeper than ever before in order to unravel the underbelly of where compliance and non-compliance emanate from. While technology can surely remove the missing pieces of compliance and non-compliance, compliance has more to do with society than the individual.

Traffic rules are all about society, then about the individual.

Being compliant is an expression of an individual’s broad interests in society’ overall benefit over her/his own.


The day after witnessing this scene I was involved in an accident. At a stop sign a driver in a powerful car drove into my rear while I had stopped. The impact was so great it fractured something in my lower back. I’m grateful to be alive well and kicking with the ability to write this piece while in hospital. To everyone reading my pieces and notes I genuinely appreciate your time and indulgence. It doesn’t really matter if you share comment or like the work but your presence in reading this is well felt.

Photo of how my car was hit at a four way stop. Probably a high speed impact.

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