Double demerits are kicking in at midnight tonight. Should you be caught with a mobile phone in your hand while driving you will be getting a $400 fine as well as eight demerit points. Last year six people died over Easter in WA.
And here is where the reader in South Africa snorts through his nose and say, “Only six! Here in South Africa it is a slaughter field over Easter.” Yes, ‘only six’ but six too many, if you ask me.
Which brings me to my topic today. Driving in Australia.
I do not have much knowledge of the fine and demerit system, except that I would prefer not to be fined and not loose any points. In all honesty, I have a VERY HEALTHY respect for the police officers here. They are imposing men and women. They are lean, mean, crime fighting machines. A police officer is also a spietkop here and you salute them as they stand in front of you. They do not have a case of trombose (jy weet, die trom hang oor die bose – in plain English, they do not have tummies that hang over their uhm… you know what) and they can run faster than you can say dêmmit!
These days I get very, very edgy when a vehicle I am driving in exceeds 110km/h. The car suddenly feels quite shaky and I find myself holding on for dear life, whether it is me driving or someone else. When the speed limit says 100km/h we stick to 100km/h. In the beginning it felt as if we were standing still. Every one on the road was standing still. You could take in the surrounds and still have time to look at the road in front of you. The best part of this is that people were doing it without having to be watched by the ever present speedies on the road. That is just the way it is done.
Yes, you still get hoons. Believe me, I live close to a main road and midnight you hear the burn outs and the V6’s and V8’s being ‘diced’ from one traffic light to another traffic light. You still get an ass who thinks he is the mackie van die plekkie and spin his very powerful ute only to stop at the traffic light at exactly the same time as you. But they are few and far between. I have taught my boys that that is what a ‘windgat’ looks like.
I have come to learn that the journey from A to B is every part as important as arriving at B. We now make an thing of the journey. We stop at the laybuys and stretch our legs. We can even picnic at some of the lay-bys. (Lay-bys are places next to the road where you can pull over and rest.) We have learnt patience on the roads.
I have not been back to South Africa in over four years. Almost five. One thing that I do remember was the impatience that people had when they had to stand in line. Let me prepare you, there are just as many lines here. People forget their deodorant here as well. You will have to stand in lines at the petrol station in peak hours and discount petrol days, you will have to stand in line in Coles and Woolies, and there is no packer who gets your shopping in the bag, the check out chick does that, or you jump in and do it. And yes, for some or other reason even here, during peak times, they also have only two to three cashiers open.
Dear Migrant to the Great South Land,
May I give you advice during this Easter season? Take your time. Keep to the speed limits on the roads (oh, I know it is a challenge when the limit is 120km/h but the going is 140km/h), it will stand you in good stead where the maximum allowed is 110km/h. Once you get that under control, start learning patience when you are standing in line waiting for something or someone. Yeah, I know that you are in a hurry to your next appointment, or wherever your busy life is taking you, but you will have to have mastered that skill. Remember that the person in front of you is just as entitled to good, fast and efficient service as you are. And the person helping you is a person, with a family, and life happening to them as well.
From me to you, start living life in the slower lane, start breathing deeper, gear down if need be. Will your impatience help you to get there quicker? Enjoy the time you have your family in such close proximity. It is an ideal situation to build bonds and speak your mind (in a calm and collected way of course) for they can not go anywhere.
Any one not getting to their destination is one too many. Be safe, drive carefully, practise keeping to 120km/h. And think of all the lay bys waiting this side. Places where you can pull off, open your tupperware container with the hardboiled eggs and boerewors pieces, the coffee in a flask, and the ham and cheese triangle sandwiches and have a good old picnic. You will never need an ENGEN ONE STOP again. We do not have those, and the ones that are next to the road sides here in Western Australia pale in comparison to the ones on your high ways.
Keep safe every one, whether you are in Australia or in South Africa, make your journey count.
For information about demerit points follow these links: