Speed (and impatience) kills

30 April 2019 | Columns

Mariselle Stofberg

The smell of gasoline. The screeching of tyres. Glass breaking. People crying. Lives lost. A cycle we keep seeing and we will continue to see if we don’t change. The change starts with you.

We see the tragedy, but we refuse to acknowledge what our country is facing every day.

This weekend I was astonished and quite frankly speechless at the behaviour on our roads in Namibia. Our country has one of the highest road deaths and I had first-hand experience again this past weekend on why we have earned this title. Coming home from a lovely Easter weekend at the coast I was once again forced to acknowledge the harsh reality of our roads in Namibia. Reckless drivers, impatience, and so much speed are inherent parts of our roads.

We have so many campaigns on how speed kills. We have seen countless videos and read so many stories on lives lost on the roads, yet we remain immune to the tragedy that surrounds us. Whether this is due to ignorance, being desensitised to the horror, or simply not caring, we keep adding to the statistics.

We read of people dying on our roads, we see the pain in the faces of the loved ones who will never have the chance to celebrate another birthday, another Christmas, another Easter, and the list continues. We attend funeral after funeral and still we exceed the speed limit, drive under the influence, take risks and put others at risk because we cannot simply wait five minutes to double check that the road is clear.

We use cars as toys, but these toys cause so much havoc. We become impatient with those who want to keep to the speed limit and we take chances. We get frustrated with sitting behind the endless trucks and we take chances. We become enraged with those taking chances and we lose focus. All it takes is one second. One second and everything changes. One second and a family is ripped apart. One second and a horrible chain reaction is started that we can’t stop.

We think that because others continue to disregard the rules, why should we keep to them? What can I do if an entire country is driving recklessly and irresponsible? Why should I care or change if others are not willing to change? This is the mentality that adds to problem. This is the fuel that adds to the fire burning through our country. You have the option to make a change. You can be the change you would like to see. Starting with your actions and your reactions you have the opportunity to create change. You are not always able to control the actions of others, but you are able to control the way you react to them.

I get frustrated with the actions of others and I lose focus. Instead of shouting, honking and using your headlights as a method to express your feelings, try to change the way you react. Don’t allow others to break your focus. Don’t allow others and their actions to ruin your day. Control and compose. Easier said than done, but the key is practise. Don’t allow others to steal your happiness, because you devote your entire day to raging about the reckless drivers and that person is completely unaware that he has done anything wrong. Stick to the speed limit. If you are afraid of being late or getting stick in traffic, leave earlier. Give yourself enough time to allow you to be diligent on the road. When we are stressed and panicked we tend to act irrationally. Don’t create an environment where you would be tempted to break the rules.

If you are stuck in traffic, turn on your radio and sing along to the music. Use the time to self-reflect, to pay attention to your surroundings and to simply relax and take five minutes to just be and not be in this continuous rush we are all caught up in.

Adhere to the road markings and speed limit. They were created for a reason. Just because your car can go up to 200 km per hour does not mean you need to use that speed. Going fast is great, but trying to control a vehicle at that speed when someone suddenly brakes, a tyre bursts or an animal runs across the road becomes that much more life-threatening if you are not able to safely bring your car to a stop due to speed.

Rather be late than to never arrive at all. Don’t be a part of the problem. Actively choose to do something and be the change you wish to see.