I have long come to realise that Australia is a nanny state of rules and regulations. There’s a rule for just about everything, and I’m starting to realise this is beginning to hamper us when in reality these sort of things should be making our lives better. Safer.
After having spent a lot of time in Thailand and using Thai roads and the lawlessness that apparently goes with driving in Thailand, you can come to both appreciate the rules we have on one hand, but despise them at the same time.
There are times where (especially in the middle of the night) where you can seemingly spend an eternity at a set of traffic lights for no apparent reason. I have a set of traffic lights at the end of my street, and I have to admit, they are pretty speedy on letting traffic out of our street. You only have to stop there for a moment and the lights begin to change. This appears to be the case even if it has only just turned red. The wait is never very long.
Yet there are traffic lights where they seemingly take forever. What’s with that?
Why are there stop signs for turning left on roads where you can see the approaching traffic for half a kilometre?
Why are there red arrows against turning right when there’s no approaching traffic at all? This one can be especially infuriating.
I remember seeing a photograph of a classic Parisian roundabout when I was at school, and I remember thinking “How do they do it? It’s chaos! How does anyone not get killed?”
As a kid I couldn’t see it. As a young adult I couldn’t see it either. Our lives are built around a network of safety measures and molly coddling. Rules and regulations designed to give us a “right of way” and a feeling of security as well as entitlement.
It’s this entitlement that breeds complacency on the roads. A righteousness that forgoes common sense. Road rage built around “he just cut me off,” or “I have the right of way!”
But what if we took that entitlement away? What would happen then?
People speed through intersections because they feel “safe” in the knowledge that other traffic should be giving way to them. But what if other traffic didn’t have to give way?
What if we took away the very things that apparently made our roads safer?
One of my favourite presenters, “99% invisible” teams up with Vox and illustrate just how it’s done elsewhere and removes some of the “molly coddling.”