Open letter – Capetonian drivers

Dear Cape Town

I love your flat-topped mountain, your grunge rockabilly themed coffee bars, and fantastic choice of top class restaurants in and around town. Unfortunately there is something we need to chat about, and that are your drivers.

Yes, many a Joburger has complained about the way your locals amble about on the blacktop, but this has reached breaking point for me and a few of my twitter following, so you’re going to have to endure this open letter:

Firstly, there seems to be a general tendency with those boasting CA registration, to wait for the moon of Aries to wane and Jupiter to be aligned with the outer cosmos, before actually moving off the line once the traffic light has turned green. I’d love some kind of explanation for this, is it something I missed at traffic light school, or is this a self preservation technique.


Speaking of school, it seems most of your drivers skip the notorious K53 driving test. I’m not a fan of that book of spells, I think it kills more people than the N3 during Easter, but I can vouch for its general opinion on the ‘Keep left, pass right’ driving philosophy. I for one subscribe to it, coming from Joburg where the right lane is reserved for those daring to exceed the speed limit, those with German marquees and the blue light brigade. I have a healthy respect for the right lane, it’s for those wanting to get somewhere a little faster than the rest of the ambling public. Not the case here where the sea air seems to daze and confuse all those behind the wheel. The right lane is crammed with old VW Chicos puttering along below the speed limit, or brand new vehicles just keeping exactly the speed limit so as to “teach” everyone a lesson, eyeing those who drive up behind them with devil mountain eyes that burn through your soul.

This is the start of where the drivers of DA country struggle. As I painted above, the driver in the right lane, and the one in the middle, and possibly even left (slow for Joburgers) is doing roughly the same speed. This rightfully causes mass panic between the three drivers, due to the fact that none will speed up, or slow down to overtake the other, they seem to “stall” in this ‘trio-line dance’, keeping anyone from passing. As the one accelerates to overtake, his friend on the left obviously moves into his blindspot, which causes similar panic to that of a plane falling out of the sky, so the driver accelerating then slows down again, and we’re back to where we started. The only way to solve this is obviously to shoot out the back tires of the driver in the fast lane. You can see how they are actually causing more road deaths in the process. Speed kills? Pah.

Actually, let us spend some well needed time talking about that little taboo in Cape Town … Speed. Not the type you can purchase willy-nilly from a large Nigerian man on Long street, but rather the velocity at which vehicles travel on tar at sea level (or lack thereof). Is it the fact that your drivers are either too high on fynbos and flat whites to notice the time they waste driving the speed they do? Are you folks actually on daylight savings time and you didn’t bother to tell the rest of the country? I think we saw where the relaxed approach to life got the Greeks, Italians and Spanish. Basically begging for money from the Americans. Nobody wants to be in that position.

What I find most peculiar, are how many traffic officials you have in unmarked cars. I say this because every time I overtake / pass a vehicle (mind you at legal speeds) the drivers in the unmarked vehicle throws their hands in the air as if they’re in an Italian family feud, and the flashing of headlights ensues. It seems that the “citizens arrest” has been translated to the “citizens traffic officer” here at the coast. Convenient, I hope they do get compensated for this time spent doing the public servant’s job. Helen should investigate.

I find all these road traffic issues stem from a lack of anticipation. It is in fact the mother of necessity, is it not? No wait that’s invention. Moving along swiftly (something you have no idea how to do).

Your wonderful tanned crowd seem to struggle to anticipate what other drivers are going to do, whether the traffic light will change orange, or lanes will merge. I find this day after day joining the highway behind a CA driver, they have no anticipation of those on the highway at speed, or joining the highway at relative (K53 compliant) speed so as not to saunter into the left (fast) lane at a dwindling 60km/h basically causing havoc for those doing 61km/h. They slam on the anchors through a bend as if they are negotiating the tightest bends on the Monaco Grand Prix, and brake right before changing lanes, causing the domino reaction cascade braking of the driver trying to overtake. There is no need to slow down to change lanes, I refer to the K53 handbook “do not accelerate or brake while being overtaken” … again somehow the version printed here in the Cape must have that part missing.

I beg of you, be more assertive. Find direction and drive as if you are in fact going somewhere with some sort of need to get there this side of the second coming of Christ the redeemer. Unless this is some sort of tactic to keep Gautengers out of the Western Cape … oh wow … wait …

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