Rein in the selfish speed freaks who endanger us all

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” has been uttered by exasperated mothers since time immemorial.

You can imagine Adam hearing that in the Garden of Eden after he threw away the apple core. Closer to home, I hope there are a whole lot of the 127 000 people who viewed Yusuf Abramjee’s post this week of someone filming themselves getting up to 322km/h on the R21 thinking that.

Sadly, in this day and age of selfishness and vacuous narcissism, there are probably far more people who think it is something to aspire to.

One person didn’t though – the person who got hold of it and then passed it on to the veteran anti-crime activist who in his inimitable way started shouting from the rooftops. He needs to, and thankfully, people appear to have taken notice.

Abramjee is appalled by the brazenness of it all; not just the unimaginable selfishness or driving at that speed and the inherent risk for anyone else who happens to be on the road but the act of having someone openly break the law and having themselves filmed doing it.

The problem is we need more people appalled; we shouldn’t have to see the inherent wrongness of going at that speed. We have become inured to road fatalities though, even when they are caused by celebrities like Dudu Zuma, the president’s son in his Porsche, or erstwhile gospel singer turned reality show TV host Jub Maarohanye off his tits on drugs.

The two-minute clip shows two guys in a car weaving through the R21 towards the East Rand Mall when they let a motorcyclist overtake and then the driver catches him as his friend films him clocking 322km/h in the process.  No one died – this time. The physics don’t lie though; the faster you go the less of your tyre touches the road and even with the most advanced braking systems available it takes you longer to stop – 11m if you’re doing 60km/h, 44m if you’re doing 120km/h; if you react immediately, but very few people can.

We’re talking close to Formula 1 speeds by a driver that’s not trained to do that. No one comes out alive when it goes pear-shaped, in fact they’ll be scraping what’s left off the side of the road. But that’s only the person(s) that caused it. What of the collateral damage, all the innocents who have to perish because of some selfish arsehole?

People are speeding al the time; count the number of motorcycles without number plates that are still on the road. The Fast and the Furious freaks and Grand Theft Auto wannabes will have been out on the roads last night and they’ll be out again tonight. Some might die but very few of us will bother to read the story unless they literally make a spectacular job of it.

The only way to stop them – and save them and us – is to have zero tolerance. Impound vehicles, especially motorbikes, that are unlicensed and, using the overhead gantries and the motorway cameras, track down these criminals and throw away the key.

They’re stone killers – they just don’t use guns.

Originally published by the Saturday Star on 6 July 2019.