Driving in South Africa: a pet peeve

I do not write about my pet peeve a lot. I have written about it here, here, here, here and here. Smile

When it comes to the driving of South Africans, in my opinion, I think we are of the worst drivers in the world. Not just in terms of handling our cars, but also in driving attitude.

Road Rage by Lisa Knechtel

One of my pet peeves is that some drivers drive as if they have an absolute right to the road and they will drive in which ever lane they want to at whatever speeds they want to. It is becoming very common for slow road users to insist on driving in the right hand lane (the fast lane). For those who claim that we do not have a fast lane, explain to me why the rules of the road say: Keep Left Pass Right? This is to enforce the free flow of traffic, so that some numb-skull does not hog any lane and thereby slowing traffic down.

In fact, this behaviour is becoming epidemic to the point that some drivers, no matter how slow they are, will drift to the right-hand lane and will not budge for any amount of cars getting stuck behind them. This is selfishness to the extreme, and it points to a personality that has not reached maturity yet!

Maybe a refresher of the rules of the road in this regard will do:


Any person driving a vehicle on a public road shall drive on the left side of the roadway and,
where the roadway is wide enough, in such manner as not to encroach on that half of the
roadway to his or her right:

Provided that such encroachment shall be permissible—

  • where it can be done without obstructing or endangering other traffic, or
  • in compliance with a direction of a traffic officer or a road traffic sign.

When you become aware of other traffic proceeding in the same direction and wishing to
pass your vehicle –

  • drive  as  near  to  the  left  edge  of  the  roadway  as  is  possible,  without
    endangering yourself, other traffic or property, and
  • do  not  accelerate  the  speed  of  your  vehicle  until  the  other  vehicle  has

The above titbits of information, come straight from The South African Learner Driver Manual.

Another section of the rules of the road says this:


. . .

A driver of a vehicle who wishes to overtake another vehicle ahead that is not in the left
hand lane can make the driver of such vehicle aware that he or she intends to overtake by
giving a visible signal by means of flashing the headlights of his or her vehicle.

Vehicles must kept left and overtake to the right on any freeway.”

With this right-hand-lane-hogging epidemic the highways are getting congested unnecessarily so. My contention is that many roads will become less congested if we simply stick to the rules of the road. If these slow Right-Hand Lane Hoggers (RHLHS) will just remember their rules of the road, then maybe things will go better. The problem is that in this country, driver’s license have been bought from crooked officials and as a result, many of our road users could not drive themselves out of a brown paper bag!


The graphic above shows it clearly. On the left side of this highway, we have the scenario where the red car in front of the yellow car is a RHLH. In this case the RHLH is insistent on driving in the right-hand lane, and this in turn forces the cars behind him to pass him on the left. On the right side of the graphic, the cars are keeping to the rules of the road for the most part, and so faster moving cars can actually pass on the right as indicated by the yellow and greens cars.

The other day, following rule 6.45, I flashed my headlights at the vehicle in front of me to move to the left.  This dou RHLH indicated to me by hand signals that I should pass him on the left. What a mor misinformed RHLH!

Some days I wish we had ray guns that could disintegrate things when we shoot them, so that I could use them on ignoramuses like these. But, then I remember that it is wrong of me to think like that. It is not always easy to act Christian-like when you have to deal with this every day.

The point is that our road users either (1) buy their licenses in lucky packets, (2) are ignorant of the rules of the road – see (1), or they are simply selfish road users.

In South Africa, it has become the in thing to claim all kinds of rights, and it seems to me that road users are claiming the right to use the highways. It simply cannot be a right since there are preconditions to our use of the highways. For one, you have to be a licensed driver. Second, you have to keep to the rules of the road. Hence, using the roads is not a right but a privilege, a privilege afforded the nation by its tax-payers. Even if you are a tax payer, you do not have an absolute right to use the roads. You still have to keep to the two rules mentioned above in this paragraph. Hence, being an RHLH makes you a law-breaker and if our highway patrols were worth anything at all, they would ensure that people like you were fined for your misuse of our roads. Your favourite highway does not belong to you, it belongs to the nation, and we all have to make use of these roads, and if we are to be calm, happy road users, then RHLHs MUST change their attitudes to help put that in place!



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