French road: Diagnosis 2 – part 2


But we must keep our eyes on the fact that life in society and position in society are systematically reflected in a driver’s behavior. Hence the lack of uniformity in road behavior and hence the absolute need to provide real understanding of the road to everyone and as soon as possible, followed in coming years by a strict and severe respect of the law, with no favors granted. Because of a failure to master the phenomenon and a lack of general knowledge of the situation, too many people think that they are in their own private fortresses when they are in their cars. This is completely false, as they are surrounded by a multitude of people with whom they have at first sight no link except to be at the same place at the same time. And yet some others think they are the lords and masters of the road. They could hardly be more wrong. Those who surround them are all different from each other, with sometimes extremely different cultures, mental aptitudes, and physical and physiological differences. Their reflexes may be completely distorted and they may perhaps be subject to psychological problems of a more or less serious nature. And, of course, they may be under the effects of medicines, alcohol or drugs. It should not be forgotten that the French are the world’s largest consumers of tranquilizers, and this will be reflected in the way they move around, drive and behave — despite the fact that some medicines should strictly be banned for those who drive, a ban which is never applied and which in any case the driver who thinkshim- or herself a super-champion would never observe.

They need to be noticed and accepted by others through the intermediary of their cars because, in their subconscious, they have the impression of being incapable of being accepted for what they are!

I therefore wish good luck to this category of people, those who feel themselves so safe and at home, because on the road one meets all kinds of people.

Executioners and victims at the same time

Certain people with clearly defined interests — I mean because of their profession — take delight in publishing a more or less exact list of the radar sites and the approximate hours they are in operation, thus more or less flouting the law and the Highway Code. Others take a sly pleasure in challenging the deductibility of points from the driving license in the case of bad driving by declaring it to be a breach of civil rights. This would be laughable if it were not a case of inciting the population not to respect the law. They should not be surprised one day when one of their children is to be found in the morgue or in a wheelchair thanks to their implicit approval of road delinquency. Some day one of their redneck protégés will perhaps be the assassin of their nearest relatives. «There is no point in pissing in the air and then complaining that it’s raining.»

The road is littered with traps, various and tricky as the devil. Many drivers take pleasure in flashing their lights at oncoming cars when there is a radar control on the road. They think themselves very clever and in a way they are right, in that the police allow them to do so, given the general approach to security. I have even once spoken to a policeman in civilian clothes who told me he had been very surprised to be severely reprimanded for doing just this. Even today, several years after, I wonder whether he was not fooling me by telling me about an aberration of this kind, especially coming from a policeman. Admitting the story to be true, this is proof of the extent to which road delinquency has become an everyday matter even within the police. To be consistent, those who play this kind of game, when there is a burglary in their block of flats, should go and warn the burglars that the police are on their way or warn all delinquents so that misdeeds may succeed, forgetting that they themselves will perhaps one day be the victim of the delinquent they have previously helped. When I look at my dog trying to catch its own tail and never succeeding because it is too small I invariably think of this kind of behavior.

Joking apart, they will pay for it sooner or later…

The greater the rednecks’ belief in their brilliance on the road, the more pathetic they are in reality — the supreme demonstration of the paradox. This being so, it should come as no surprise that the most observant people, the most intelligent, the least submissive and especially those who are lucky enough to be able to do so, leave France as fast as they can to go where people are more intelligent, less stupid and above all less mean to each other — despite the «Liberty, Equality, Fraternity» on our coins. One must never forget that what happens on our roads is a reflection of our society and of the country we live in. My freedom stops at the point where it threatens the freedom of others. Equality should mean that a certain minority has no right to “take care of” a speeding ticket (a frequent occurrence for some while others have to pay every penny of their dues). And, going back to the central problem, fraternity should mean that the French drivers should not be full of hatred, showing this every time they get behind a wheel, giving Dame VAT her regular orgasm. One explanation for this is that the «system» leaves them no other possibility than to do as they like on the road in order to escape from the tyranny of our taxation system. So it would seem that these three words are a survival from a bygone age when the major architects of the universe were certainly much more sincere in their convictions than their current successors. American coins are inscribed «In God we trust», a reflection of the profound reality and shown to be sincere by the way they behave. By contrast, when they see what goes on in France, they must nearly die of laughing when they see what is written on our own currency.