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2005-07-05 11:13

John Oxley

If it wasn't for the fact that three people died, it could almost have been a scene from a comedy.

The driver of a hearse on his way to pick up a body from a farm in the Free State dropped his cigarette onto his lap.

The ciggie rolled under his leg, the driver tried to get it out as it was burning him, and in the process the vehicle hit the side of a bridge, bounced across and hit the other side, and three people - one of them a family member of the original deceased - were killed.

Shame you say, but what's the point?

Simply, the Government has gone to great lengths to implement laws relating to people using their cellphones while driving - and rightly so.

But nothing exists to prevent people smoking in their cars, or eating sandwiches or pies, glugging coke or hot coffee, or doing their makeup or shaving while on the move.


For instance, I couldn't believe what I was seeing this morning - the woman in front of me was putting her hair up using one of those funny clip things.

It took her about five minutes in all to get it to her satisfaction, during which time she examined her appearance in the driver's mirror about four times.

And we were moving at about 40 km/h, in quite thick traffic, her car swerving off at intervals towards the big space on her left until she corrected it - presumably with her knees, since her hands were on her head the whole time!

Oh, by the way, the reason there was a big space on her left was because the guy who should have been alongside her had spotted what was going on, and dropped back to avoid being side-swiped.

She, of course, was oblivious to everything around her.

And it's not an isolated incident. A couple of months ago we got a phone call from a PR person who was to have supplied us with a car for road test.

Unfortunately, she said, the car was at the panel beaters. Her driver had taken it to the filling station for petrol. While there he bought a pie. On the way back he started to eat the pie, dropped it, and while trying to retrieve it ran into the back of the vehicle in front.

Children at large

My biggest fear, though, is for kids who are let loose to do their own thing in "Mom's taxi". How many times do you see a young child standing up on the front seat of a car while their stupid mother chats away merrily, a cellphone in one hand and a cigarette in the other?

And how IS it that people think they can reverse their car while chatting on the 'phone, or negotiate a parking lot?

The bottom line, I suppose, is that too many people don't take driving seriously.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

An experiment is taking place in Holland whereby a "black box" in rental cars will analyse the way the car is driven, and if the driver doesn't drive too close to the car in front, doesn't swerve from side to side, doesn't drive too fast, and so on, he or she will get a rebate from the car rental company.

Of course, there's another side to that coin.

Black boxes could record BAD driving. And maybe people who score big could be sent off for re-training.

Big Brother - or a good thing?


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