Why do we make traffic worse?

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IOL mot feb27 gridlock 2 INLSA We all hate traffic, but why do so many of us make it worse by being inconsiderate?

Radio stations should be there to ease the stress of being stuck in the daily rush hour grind, but nowadays we just seem to get bombarded with one annoying advert after another.

This has led to the rise of the self-paid 'celebrity' - some, for instance, rambling through their nasal cavities and others thinking that their high-pitched lisp will convince you to buy stuff. Not that you'd want to hear my voice on the radio every five minutes, which is why I'm happier hiding behind this keyboard.

Now these ads can be useful sometimes, to those who want to find out more about family businesses or to someone who sees the lighter side when told that they'll actually love sitting in Jo'burg's gridlock when they buy a car from a certain place.

Sure, we just love traffic. In fact, cheesy radio ads are the least of our concerns when creeping along at snail's pace. But what if there was something you and I could do about it?

Yes, an undersupply of road space relative to the amount of cars must be the biggest culprit, but I'm willing to bet that an oversupply of morons on the road is a very significant factor too - if nothing else, making a bleak situation far worse.

In fact, I'm convinced I'd be comparing bank balances with Mark Zuckerberg if I had a rand for every time I saw someone pulling off one of the following traffic-hindering manoeuvres:

LOCKING THE GRID:

So traffic in your road is backed up but because the light is green, you think it's a signal to proceed into the intersection. You don't get across by the time the light turns red and now you're happily making those in the intersecting road see red by starting a new traffic jam for them. Sadly, many otherwise considerate people are often bullied into this situation by the overactive hooters behind them.

BOTTLENECKING

So traffic from the off-ramp is backed up on to the slow lane and you decide to slow down to crawling speed in the middle lane to sneak a gap somewhere. Everyone behind you must now slow down too and before you know it there's a bottleneck to the fast lane and a ripple effect big enough to cause a traffic jam - if not a nasty prang. If you have this habit you should not be driving, period. Catch the bus please.

STRAIGHT TURNERS

Although not as severe a deed, the previous trick is also performed on normal urban roads either by people who get lost and only realise too late that they're in the wrong lane or by those who are too stuck up their own backsides to want to wait in line with everyone else. We can all sympathise with the 'lost' motorist, but I have to ask why he/she can't be more considerate to those behind and just loop the block again where possible.

FAST LANE SCRAMBLE

You've entered the highway and the slow lane traffic is too slow because so many cars are entering so you immediately steal a gap into the middle or fast lane even though you're still way below highway pace. Sure, you have a right to overtake but because it's rush hour and so many people are doing what you're doing it has a big ripple effect. Perhaps holding out for a little longer would benefit overall traffic flow.

ROAD BLOCKERS

We're all familiar with the taxi drivers and buses that just stop in the middle of a lane to collect/drop passengers. It's almost synonymous with road rage, although I also blame those in power for not providing enough places for them to stop.

“No car is an island”

You might not agree with all these examples and I'm sure you could think of many more but what it really boils down to is that congestion is made worse by drivers thinking only of themselves.

English poet John Donne once said , “No man is an island,” and in our little corner of the world, the term 'ubuntu' also springs to mind. Great wisdoms for everyday life, but why can't they also apply to driving?

Every move you make has a ripple effect on the traffic behind you, often lasting long after your little transgresion. Why, then, are there so many drivers out there who think: “I'm gonna to do what it takes to get there quick as I can and screw the rest.”

The irony here is that mentality, on the part of too many people, is often the reason that congestion happens in the first place.

That’s my rant. How would you solve traffic congestion?



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