05 August 2008
I've eventually had it. (Warning, this is probably going to turn into a rant.) Like everyone else in this city, I've become accustomed to pulling over to allow the regular flow of police and traffic officers right of way during the worst of rush hour traffic. We don't just do this to be polite, of course. Aside from the potential loss of life that may occur as the result of preventing a police car or ambulance from arrive at a scene on time (yes, we care, damnit!), I believe that this bit of road etiquette is in fact law; one of the few bits of road legislation that the majority of the motorists in this country adhere to. What apt irony it is then that this, one of the few upstanding habits still remaining on our motorways, is being so blatantly abused by our local authority figures. Now, I'm all for abusing ones position every now and then - that's one of the unofficial perks of being in any position of authority or power. Everyone expects it and would be liars if they said that they wouldn't like to themselves. There is an unspoken rule, however, that you do your best not to look like you're doing it. In most cases, it's easy enough to say that no-one likes a smart-arse, but when it comes to police or medical vehicles slipping through busy traffic the scenario is a little different. People aren't letting you through because you're the boss - it's not because of respect or fear - it's because they believe that you are off to save a person's life and that any delay may have potentially grave consequences. It's no secret, of course, that the thumb may, on occasion, "accidentally" find the siren button, or that the "emergency call" may be suddenly resolved, conveniently as you pass you home. These transgressions are tolerated, if not acceptable. But the days of subtle manipulation of the bounds of ones authority are long gone, it appears. The officers of today may as well be speeding down the white line with their sirens blaring and the bird out the window, flipping off other motorists as they pass, for all the discretion they are using. I realize that it is more likely that accidents will occur during rush hour, but lets be serious: I see more police vehicles flying past me on the highway between five and six than I see throughout the rest of the week during normal hours. I was even passed by a blaring Casper a few weeks ago. Where could he be going? I'm doubting that his passengers are in any rush. The final straw for me was early last week when I watched a police van on the M3 leapfrogging between cars. He would put on his siren, pull out between traffic, pass a car or two and then pull back in. A few minutes later and he'd do it again. And again. And again. It became so frustrating to watch that some motorists hooted, yet still the unknowing drivers up ahead continued to let him pass, unaware of how absurdly blatant his insult was. I have to imagine that some were suspicious though, with the stop, start, stop, start of his warbling siren periodically punctuating the noise of traffic. I say final straw, but what is there to do? Report them? Ha ha. Fat load of good that'll do. Besides, there's always the chance, however slim, that they turn out to be one of the good guys doing their job. Sometimes I depress myself.