Chris Moerdyk’s list of selfish bastards includes Chris Moerdyk

Chris Moerdyk has finally had it with the selfish bastards who don’t pay their taxes and cut red lights and talk on their cellphones while driving and get behind the wheel after one too many.

And that includes him:

But then, it suddenly dawned on me that if Colin didn’t pay his taxes, government would hardly just say “oh, well we have just made a bit of a loss, let’s take it on the chin and move on.”  What government would most certainly say is: “OK, now where can we make up that shortfall?”
And they would simply get more tax from those poor sods, who unlike Colin, have PAYE deducted from their pay-packets and don’t have the choice of paying or not paying their taxes.

So, I thought “Colin, you selfish bastard.”

I spent another hour pacing up and down my study thinking about all the other selfish bastards there were whose actions cause, or could cause, innocent people so much grief and trauma.

Then it occurred to be that I am also a selfish bastard.

But, I am going to stop.

I really don’t want anyone to be able to point at me and call me a selfish bastard for killing their child/uncle/wife/grandfather/dog. That’s the sort of thing that ruins your life forever. And all for the sake on a drink or a cellphone conversation. Logic tells me it’s actually not worth it. I have also just discovered by the way, that non-alcoholic cocktails actually taste exactly the same as those with alcohol in them.
The only difference is one doesn’t turn you into a selfish bastard.

Wise words indeed, and it stuck me that Chris’ epiphany was probably prompted by a quick read of this post from last week.

I applaud him for his bold stance but note that 90% of the comments are based on the dangers of drink driving, despite the fact we have been told that cell use “is probably six times more dangerous than driving drunk”.

That message is still not getting through. That social stigma is still not there.
There are still too many selfish bastards out there, although according to Chris, there’s one fewer now.

Don’t you hate those last line “less/fewer” issues?

Cell use ‘worse than driving drunk’

Interesting quote from Gary Ronald of the AA in the Cape Times this morning:

Driver distraction is probably six times more dangerous than driving drunk. If a driver over the legal alcohol limit of 0.05 already has the potential risk of being involved in a crash 15 times more than a sober person, the context of distraction is even more frightening.

I’m all for any measure that improves road safety in SA. But it worries me that Gary seems to be spouting figures for the sake of figure spouting: “probably six times more dangerous than driving drunk”? Well, maybe it is, but why chuck the word “probably” in?
Does this figure that you are spouting come from any sort of research or did you just make it up? And if it came from some sort of research, what sort of result is “probably six times more dangerous than driving drunk”?
When I do science, I don’t come up with results like that. I either say yes or no. And if I’m ever tempted to stray towards a “probably”, then I go away and I do some more research until I can say yes or no.
That’s how it works.

People see that sort of quote and they think “He’s just made that up, hasn’t he?”.
The obvious next step is not to take what Gary is saying seriously and then what most individuals will do is refute all stats on cellphone usage while driving as being nonsense, which in itself is also nonsense, but that is what will happen.

And it spoils what is a very important message: that using your cellphone while you are driving is a dangerous thing to do.
That’s why it’s illegal.

But then, so is driving without a seatbelt and so is drinking and driving and so is speeding and so is going through a red light.
Sadly, here in SA, there is a real issue with people’s attitudes to obeying rules and a real issue with any sort of law enforcement on the roads.
Every day, I see tens of people driving while using cellphones. There’s the usual two versions of the talkers: one doing 130kph without really looking where he’s going, and the other one who unknowingly slows down to 30kph and may weave slightly.
Then there’s the texters (although it could also be social media or email, of course). There are also two types of them: the ones who hold the phone up right in front of their field of vision, resting it on the top of the steering wheel, and the ones who have it down on their lap, text, look up, look down, text some more, look up, look down, text some more etc etc etc. Each of these four approaches demonstrates a clear lack of concentration on the road around them. Each is dangerous and illegal.

Funny thing is, most of those people would probably baulk at the suggestion that they would ever drive drunk and yet they happily use their phone while on the road, which “is probably six times more dangerous than driving drunk”. Why?
Is it because they don’t know how dangerous it is?
Is it because they know and don’t care?
Is it because they don’t think they’ll get caught?

The spokesman for Cape Town Traffic Services, Kevin Jacobs, said 4 184 drivers in six months had been fined for the unlawful use of a cellphone while driving.

4,200 in 6 months. That’s 700 a month. Or 24 a day. 1 an hour.
In a city with 3,000,000+ inhabitants. It’s a drop in the ocean.

The war on drink driving in SA has proved that it takes a combination of stricter law enforcement and powerful advertising to even begin to get the message across to a public which is used to getting away with breaking rules. For the first time since moving here, I am beginning to notice a shift in attitude amongst my friends when it comes to drink driving. It used to be that they’d know it was wrong, but that they take the chance of getting away with it. Now there’s more of a social stigma attached to it (like in the UK) and there’s more awareness about getting caught and the consequences that come with it, people don’t do it any more.

How long before using your cellphone while driving (which, lest we forget, “is probably six times more dangerous than driving drunk”) generates that same sort of reaction?

A year? Ten years? Never?

Missed by blitz, but…

While I drove all around the city this week, I didn’t pass through a single roadblock in the supposed traffic blitz that was an attempt to rake in the almost R600m that the city drivers owe in fines. We all heard about the roadblocks though. Especially the big finale on the M5 on Friday afternoon, which @capetownfreeway sensibly described as “Congestion”, rather than “Police trying to catch fine dodgers”.

Colour me unimpressed. Although I have never had a traffic fine in my life, how many drivers who did owe didn’t have to pass through a check either?

What has impressed me more, however, is the adoption of the new Cape Town Traffic Bylaw, which means that (amongst other things), repeat offenders will be fined more (and we’re assuming that they will pay up?) and that they may have their cellphones taken from them if they are seen using them at the wheel.

“They can’t do that – it’s illegal!” whine the whiners, but they’re wrong. There’s a long-term precedent for impounding of property – vehicles and animals are good examples.


Just as you would if your motor vehicle were towed away, you will now need to visit the pound in order to redeem your phone.

“This is obviously not a step we were keen to take,’ says JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security “but the reality is that distracted driving, mainly due to talking or texting on cell phones while driving, is one of the four major causes of death on the road.” The other three are speed, alcohol and not wearing safety belts.

Distracted driving, as it’s known, is a well-known cause of road fatalities; this includes changing radio channels and talking or texting. At the moment, notes Alderman Smith, the fines for these offences are too small to make an impression and there are insufficient traffic enforcement resources to ensure that offences are dealt with often enough to modify offender behaviour.

“We have also created tougher sentences for driving without a safety belt – another big cause of fatalities. Of course a seatbelt doesn’t prevent a crash, but in the event of such an event, it can be the difference between life and death.”

At last. I hope, as Alderman Smith suggests, that they are serious about using the new bylaw. My kids and I nearly got wiped out at the traffic lights on Waterloo Road today.
We were stationery, since the light was red, the daft cow in the Opal Corsa Lite “S” (seriously, it’s a Corsa Lite – don’t attract further attention by adding a big red letter) came up behind us doing [cough] “sixty”, saw us VERY late because she was texting on her white BB and just missed us, finally skidding into the kerb about 50cm behind us. She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, incidentally. So that gives her at least three out of four of the major causes of death on the road.
Anyway, I got a fright, she got a fright (and probably BBM’d her friends about it as she drove away), the kids were unaware, unperturbed and therefore unmoved by the entire incident.

Which is just about the best result I could have wished for, save for her phone being impounded, like her brain obviously had been.

Avoid costly mobile phone bills while in South Africa

I can’t actually believe that I’m writing this. This sort of thing is so basic, it shouldn’t need to be written. And that’s going to open the floodgates to all sorts of other basic advice posts like how to wipe your bum after going to the toilet and how you should use a spoon instead of a fork when eating soup. Stuff you really shouldn’t need to be told.
It’s a road I don’t want to go down, but Sky News have forced me to with this article on their website:

World Cup Warning: £80 To Post Photos Online
World Cup ticket holders may need to resist the temptation to make friends envious by posting pictures online using their mobile phones, a customer group has warned.
Consumer Focus calculated that the cost of uploading just 10 photos to Facebook from South Africa could result in an eye-watering £80 bill from a UK mobile operator.

The article goes on to say that visitors should look for an internet cafe to use while they are here, or stock up on text and data bundles before they head over. But there’s a much better way, isn’t there?

My #worldcuphost mode kicks in.
If you’re  coming over for the World Cup, your first stop after the airport and the pub should be a supermarket or post office. There, you can pick up a Vodacom or MTN SIM card, which will cost no more than R1. That’s a whole 9 pence. You’ll need to have your passport with you to register the SIM in your name.
Stock up with some airtime from the friendly cashier, put that new SIM card in your phone – don’t forget to take your UK one out first – and use it for the duration of your stay.
That’s it, there are no more instructions.

Texts back to Blighty will cost around R1.50 (14p) each and data is around R2/MB (that’s 18p).
Train smash averted.

What? You remain unconvinced and  need some further encouragement that this is the correct way to go? Then let me help you out with an ever so basic example.
I’ve done some rudimentary calculations and I reckon that with the current exchange rate at about £1/R11.25 and the average price of a bottle of beer in a pub of R15, that £80 quid you were about to waste on Facebook could get you 60 (sixty!) extra bottles of beer.

I think you should send a few of them my way, don’t you?