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The Fox 5366
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Surviving Cape Town motorists

10 June 2014, 09:49
Cape Town traffic has more than a few surprises for Johannesburg drivers. I'd know ... five months after moving down to Cape Town from Big Smoke I still get surprised by reasonably common behaviour here.
Maybe some other Cape Town motorists can explain whether this is indeed normal, and why so:

1: Call me spoiled, but in Johannesburg we used to always shake our heads at the people who'd jump red lights ... you know, the light would turn red and somebody would STILL drive across. In Cape Town, I've learned it's a lot safer to rather count to five after a traffic light has turned red before trying to cross, simply due to the number of cars (not just taxis mind you) that happily drive through red lights as a matter of course.

2: In Johannesburg you'd always have the inconsiderate motorists who'd block intersections during slow moving traffic (William Nicol was famous for that). At least there the offending motorists would look at you a bit guiltily if they'd blocked your way, and try to shift to another lane to open a gap. Not so in Cape Town: here it is quite usual for three lanes of traffic to block massive intersections, never mind that the traffic light turned orange and they've got no hope of getting across. Aaaaaargh!

3: Nose-to-tail Golden Arrow buses, need I say more (especially in reference to blocking intersections as above)? Give me Johannesburg's Putco buses anytime rather.
4: High-speed taxis. In Johannesburg I was very familiar with slow taxis who'd stop in front of you as they like, but these would mostly stick to back roads and weren't really a frequent sight on the N1. In Cape Town, taxi drivers' wildest dreams come true ... every single day they'll rush past at 120 km/h in 80 km/h zones, weaving from the far left-lane to the far right-lane. I still haven't gotten used to the sight of a taxi bearing down on me with a closing speed north of 40km/h and then jerking out of the way with about two inches to spare from my rear bumper. I never thought I'd say it, but I'd LOVE a bit of speed-trapping on the N2 in the mornings!

5: Tail-gating. This is definitely a Capetonian thing, and I'm yet to work out what the benefits are. It doesn't get you where you want to go any faster, and it hugely increases the risk for both you and the driver you're tail-gating. I tend to deal with these drivers with a liberal series of fast taps on my brake pedal, which generally gets the point across ... and then they look at me as if I'm the crazy one. No mate, if you crash into the back of me it's YOUR fault.
Given all of the above you'd expect to hear car hooters all day long in Cape Town, but the amazing thing is that you just don't. It's like people have become immune to this, and offenders who jump red lights three seconds after they've changed look so delightfully shocked when you DARE to hoot at them it's still worth it. Yes, I have a car hooter, and a reasonable idea of traffic laws and common courtesy. In an ideal world I'd be able to machine-gun offenders off the road, but for now giving them headaches will do.
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