The Monster Within

Posted by M ws On Sunday, June 2, 2013 0 comments
At a dinner last year, I complimented a former student, now a prominent lawyer, for his impeccable road etiquette. As he lives near my home, I was trailing behind his Porsche one day on my way to work. He did not exceed the speed limit and was probably driving at 60-65mph. He did not beat any red light nor did he overtake any car or honked at anyone. I was and still am so amazed at his wonderful driving manners. He only knew I was following him months later when I praised him as I related this incident to him.

His response to my compliment still echoes in my head: "Miss, road rage is a serious problem in Penang. The roads are perpetually clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic and it is a very potent situation because any trigger can unleash the monster within us. All it takes is one wrong move such as honking at the wrong person, a murderous look, or a rude sign with fingers or even mouthing words and one can never know the destructive ways by which frustrated drivers can vent their anger after meandering through traffic jams to reach their destination or to find a parking lot." He went on to relate a number of cases he had handled with regards to road accidents.

I was gobsmacked and his words of advice resound through my brain each time I feel I am at the brink of losing my patience when on the road.

This morning, I was just so horrified to read about how a driver was killed after he was knocked down by a passing vehicle while trying to force another driver out from his car in the middle of the Penang Bridge following a misunderstanding early yesterday. The Star reported that it is the first fatal road age incident since the Penang Bridge opened 27 years ago.

The NST reported that in the 12.30am incident at Km7 of the island-bound stretch, the victim died at the scene from multiple injuries.

According to The Star, a police spokesman said the victim and his friend, travelling in a Ford Ranger, were said to be annoyed with a driver of the Audi A6 who had honked at them. The Audi driver, who declined to be named, said he had honked at the driver of the Ford Ranger near the toll plaza on the mainland.

After that, he said, the driver of the pickup truck kept honking back at him incessantly.

“The victim then overtook the Audi and hastily stopped in front of the car on the middle lane, causing the driver to slam on the brakes thus forcing the other driver to stop behind his truck. The victim then alighted his vehicle and tried to force the Audi driver to come out from his car.

“The victim and his friend then confronted the driver and tried to drag him out by force,” the police spokesman said.

At that time, a Proton Saga that was trailing behind the two vehicles tried to swerve away from the Audi and rammed straight into the victim who died on the spot from multiple injuries while his friend suffered serious injuries and has been hospitalised.

The driver of the Audi was not injured but the driver-side door of his vehicle was ripped apart by the impact of the crash. See the photo of the car HERE.

Another report by The Sun has more horrifying details as it reported:

According to the passenger in the Audi, who declined to be named, three men came out from the truck and started to pull his friend, the driver of the car.

"One of the men started punching him and scolded my friend, while another friend tried to calm him down," he said.

The passenger, a 50-year-old project manager who was travelling to Penang with his friend for a holiday, said a car then came speeding into the group of the three men, hitting them like bowling pins.

"One of them flew about 30 feet (10 metres) after being knocked down.

You can look at photos of the scene of the accident HERE and HERE.

Watch the video HERE.

Once, when I was driving to Batu Feringghi for a dinner held at a Chinese restaurant, I was moving at a snail's pace because of the heavy traffic along the winding coastal road. The car behind me was honking at me incessantly and feeling quite irritated, I slowed down and allowed him to overtake me. Following that, he overtook me and then braked in front of me a few times.  From past experiences, I half-expected such a move and had maintained a reasonable distance to avoid any untoward incident.

On Friday, I met up with some two friends from Kuala Lumpur who were in town and the first thing they said to me was how rude, inconsiderate and uncouth are some Penang drivers. My response : See, now you can understand why I seldom venture beyond Jalan Masjid Negeri and prefer the peaceful ambiance of my home.

Far beyond the issue of traffic jams is the selfishness and arrogance of many people today. Just last night, when driving along Jalan Masjid Negeri, my husband gave a signal to indicate he was moving into the right lane to go through the underpass. I was checking my mail on my mobile when suddenly, my usually patient husband let out a very loud "Haiyohhhhhh". I raised my head and to my horror, I saw a tour bus swerving unceremoniously into our lane and had almost crashed into my side!

There are those who switch lanes at their whims and fancies. On the last day of school, I was driving along Jalan Bukit Gambier when to my horror, I saw a car weaving to the right lane and then the left lane and right and left again in a morbid attempt to beat the queue. Unbelievably, after picking my son from school, the same F1 driver was doing the same stunt along the road heading to town! Such people should not be allowed to drive.

I have seen how irresponsible drivers and motorcyclists risk their lives and that of others by making illegal U-turns from their side of Jalan Masjid Negeri into the opposite side of the road. Other cars and vehicles have to swerve to their right to avoid hitting these irresponsible morons.

At the junction of Jalan Delima with Jalan Masjid Negeri, motorists have long been forbidden to make a right turn into Jalan Masjid Negeri but till today, I still see some who flout whatever signage just so they can drive their way and according to their rules.

Along Jalan Tanjung Tokong near to TESCO, you can see many motorcyclists who ride their bikes with no crash helmets. Two years ago, a former colleague actually sent me photos of such characters but I have not blogged about them thinking it was just a snapshot of a one-off incident but alas, it seems to be quite a prevalent situation.

On the way home from lunch yesterday, we were driving along Jalan Anson (a one-way street from the junction with Ghee Hiang) when a man turned into Jalan Anson from Jalan Pahang and promptly continued driving AGAINST THE TRAFFIC FLOW. Of course I honked at him to tell him it was a one-way street but all he did was to grin at me and then he continued on his merry way.

Even when it comes to a simple task like parking, I have seen selfish motorists driving luxurious cars who parked their vehicles beside empty lots. Just because it is beneath them to pay 30 cents per 30 minutes to park their car, they have to deprive others from parking there. Then there are those who park on the wrong side of the road, at junctions, double park or even abandon their cars in parking lots!!! There is a black car which has been abandoned in front of the shop houses in my neighbourhood. The diligent parking attendant there has been painstakingly issuing parking bills and there is a big stack of weather-beaten bills trapped behind the wiper.

I could rant endlessly about such situations which are common in Penang and probably in other parts of the country/world. It is during such times when I wonder what has become of society today.

We may have skyscrapers, glitzy glam-styled shopping malls or the most canggih type of androids but at the end of the day, when I consider the way people drive or their reactions in the real world or social media, I begin to wonder, who is feeding the monster within, egging each to emerge and launch an attack on those around them.

Respect for one another, road courtesy and civic consciousness - all these and more are qualities/values that are almost absent in the world today.

Is it any wonder then that monsters within rears their ugly heads/sides on the roads?

What can be done?

Don't drink and drive. Sabar. Be courteous when on the road.

Please share your views/experiences. Thanks!

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