French road: Diagnosis 2 – part 6


A past French Transport Minister — they change so often because they are ambitious and get moved on — announced that the main national cause for the year 2000 would be road safety. He was by no means the first to trot out this shibboleth. Will he do as he says and one day reach his famous target of 4000 deaths a year on the road without fiddling the figures?

If he is sincere, there could be no more ambitious and respectable project. For many years now the problem has been raised by his predecessors and successors without any convincing result, to the point that there are now virtually no road checks except, of course, for our trucker slaves. Car drivers now feel free to do as they like, apart from a little radar check from time to time, not enough to clog the courts but bringing in a little money after all.

The hunting season for little fat rabbits is open and we don’t want to die of hunger.

Recently a new generation of radar controls has sprung up virtually everywhere in Paris and the Paris region. The best radar product (of French manufacture, incidentally) is very reasonably priced. These will no longer be installed at well-defined places as in the past. The authorities are to be congratulated on finally deciding to locate the controls at places that are really dangerous and send the bad drivers before the courts for valid reasons in order to make them aware of the need to respect others and themselves. Unfortunately, how many of the most dangerous people in regards to road delinquency will be able to have the charges simply annulled? Far too many, in my opinion, unless there is a genuine shake-up. Here again, surely not equality and the wrong kind of fraternity, but, of course, some people live in the best of all possible worlds.

We can also see a revival of normal road checks and slightly more frequent tickets for infringements of the Highway Code. Above all, these are being directed less at heavy goods vehicles in general.

This is a major first step, but the step is that of an invalid learning to use his limbs again after too long a period of paralysis. I am talking of the system, naturally, and not of the former French Interior Minister, Mr.Jean-Pierre Chevènement — could his remarkable recovery from near-death be a sign from Heaven?

One can also discern in the general press a slightly better tone regarding heavy goods vehicles in general and the police in particular. Perhaps they have understood that they were their own murderers or perhaps they have been told to pipe down?

Personally, I believe the second explanation. The question now is how far the government can go in restoring order, given that the disorder that has reigned far too long is now so deeply entrenched? Bringing the death toll on French roads down to 4000 is not at all utopian. It is an absolute necessity and even bringing the figure down slightly below 2000 would be normal from the standpoint of those like myself.

What a triumph it will be for the Transport Minister and the Interior Minister the day we approach the 4000 level. The rest will be automatic. The hardest part is to launch the process of breaking the mould of the present diabolical mind-set. There will be much public agitation when the system goes into second gear and even top gear, in the next few months if it simply manages to set out on the necessary path.

It is certainly not the occasional calls for caution put out over the radio or certain newspapers to drivers who have absolutely no notion of what prudence or respect for the Highway Code means, that will have any educational effect. What we see here is either viciousness or a flagrant refusal to look squarely at the problem, certainly not to solve it, given the huge profits at stake. If there is a serious accident on a motorway, hundreds of liters of petrol will be used up in the traffic jams following the accident and hundreds of mobile phones will go into action, to mention just two of the commercial implications. I shall not dwell on this subject, as everyone has now understood. This is one of the reasons why, as I have been able to observe innumerable times on French motorways, the government allows drivers to go in 90% of cases at more than 100 mph in the fast lane with only 5 to 8 yards separating each vehicle in a string of often fifteen or more. This occurs time and again and yet the government does nothing to correct the situation. Appeals for caution addressed to this type of driver are just whistling in the wind, simply to appease the authorities’ conscience. Any driver who observes the motorway speed limit of 70 mph who wants to overtake a truck going peacefully at 60 to 65 in the slow lane and assuming that he himself keeps his proper safety distance (unfortunately, not always the case) will systematically arouse the wrath of certain fast-lane drivers. If, for one reason or another, the overtaking process lasts a certain time for reasons of security in the particular circumstances, or if another car driver pulls out in front of you just when you start to overtake, the road madman arriving like a bullet behind you.– with no calculation regarding security because he is hypnotized by what he is driving — will stick 3 yards behind your tail, his left arm (significantly) gripping the bottom of the wheel or at two o’clock. He will then move his left arm aggressively away from its initial position.

This is definitely not the position of a good driver, but it is fashionable and more or less everybody takes up this driving position — especially the idiots of all kinds and especially those submissive to what they are driving. They have no character and, above all, no knowledge of the extremely rare occasions when such a position is needed for quite specific technical reasons. They do not realize that this position predisposes the driver to be unconsciously violent and aggressive. They do not know that it is used in the techniques of defensive-offensive driving to which I shall return later. This super-madman of mine then moves his left arm to the headlight-flashing lever and waggles it madly, like the stupid macho individual he is, in order to externalize his unconscious fear of the situation he has put himself in with his all-round mediocrity. He is certainly not master of his actions and his car, let alone his knowledge of the road.

We have here the unmistakable proof that intelligence cannot really be situated because it is not only the true redneck who behaves like this on our roads but also people from a totally different and often highly cultivated background. One might say that intelligence is in fact only a psychological state and psychological states come and go. This means that if the government’s plans to inculcate normal road behavior into French drivers are based merely on repression, it could simply push to the extreme the exploitation of this uneducated primate, subjected for many years to auto-suggestion pushing him towards such behavior.

Is the French driver as responsible as all that for the present situation? This is a question that it would be extremely interesting to address at the dawn of the new millennium. At the same time it has to be recognized that deep-seated lack of knowledge of the subject is a great injustice, all the more so when those who have the knowledge keep it jealously to themselves for fear of no longer being in the dominant position.

This fact is nothing new; it goes back to the remotest forms of life seen on our planet. But our future is irrevocably linked to the wheel and in this context I am not speaking just about car wheels. I am talking about the practice that deliberately prevents far too large a majority of mankind from evolving, despite the latest technologies and methods of learning and communication. If this type of vicious practice had not been applied for too long by a certain human caste, civilization on our planet would be much further advanced. To take one example among others, we would not now be suffering the intolerable shame to our planet represented by the slavery of the black peoples in the name of some strange and intangible principle that governs all our lives to a certain extent, enabling the strong to dominate the weak through the intermediary of material goods.

It is possible to deduce from this that the fear-induced hatred of some people vis-à-vis heavy goods vehicles, mainly in France, is due to the fact that physically the heavy lorry remains virtually invincible on the road, and this is seen as incompatible with the lowly social position of the driver. This is totally unacceptable for the inhibited mind of those who are over-submissive to the materialist world or those whom certain socio-psychological parameters in France have brought out of prison only to be made into slaves. It would be interesting to know why for some people this very basic philosophy of subjectivity has gone so far in France, so as to be able to identify the protagonists and eradicate the causes, and let everyone live in peace. Obviously, only high-level scientists of various specializations, with the support of the theologians, are able to resolve this type of problem at either national or world level. However, as this would provide a countervailing power in the face of the various economic interests, we are unlikely to arrive at such a level of civilization in the near future.

Subjectivity forms part of all our natures, but taken to the extreme it becomes entirely aggressive and dangerous. This is why pacifists have been systematically massacred or gagged in various parts of the world, since their form of culture converged with the objective thought that operates in the direction of man’s evolution and of the widest possible sharing of modern or past techniques, as well as of the general well-being. Here again, I am not talking of the philosophy of «give me your watch and I will give you the time» but simply of improved equilibrium at all levels. In particular, there is a need to bring those at the bottom of the scale up towards the norm in all fields… especially in terms of philosophy.

To arrive at a pacifist situation on the road (although not necessarily peaceful when it comes to road safety measures) and in order to install the barriers needed for the safety of all, a television information campaign would have to be introduced at peak times, before or at least in parallel with an unprecedented repression in this field. This is needed if the results are to be worthy of a government that has announced this very real problem to be a national cause. And the information must be honest and uncensored, whether certain people like it or not. Several billion euros would have to be allocated — and the car drivers have already had to shell out billions themselves — even to pay a small part of the damages for the sufferings caused by the French laxity that has lasted far too long while other countries were seriously addressing the problem in order to restore order. Thousands of traffic police — I am thinking of between 2000 and 2500 — highly motivated and fully backed by a structure of senior officers specially trained for the purpose, concerned only with the road, would have to be recruited. Among other things, they would have to believe in what they are doing and, for example, never agree to the canceling of a ticket. Failing that, a minority of people like me will continue to think that the present situation is intentional and that the road anarchy we live in is not so much anarchy as well-organized. The judgment of this small minority will be that of future generations regarding what happened at the end of the 20th century, just as we judge with the information made available to us, what happened 1000 years ago. If we were to believe that we can go back in time, as is perhaps the reality although we think that we are moving with it, we would surely achieve a better reconciliation of the material world in all its forms and live in greater harmony both with that world and with ourselves. To arrive at this form of philosophy a greater symbiosis is needed between the material world and mankind. Especially, taking the subject of this book, between the vehicle and mankind.

Cars above everything else

The use of the term «road philosophy» is somewhat strange when one remembers that for many years, especially in France and other countries with a high accident rate, it would seem that driving is a completely trivial occupation demanding no mental concentration. In broad terms, driving is nothing, being a bit like sleeping, watching TV or eating. The most amusing thing is to hear people who claim to be interesting speaking in this way.

These people are a danger to themselves and to those around them, whether it be on the road or in any other domain, especially when they are put in a position of responsibility that is very often excessive in relation to their intrinsic qualities. They are no more responsible for their actions behind the wheel than for the other responsibilities that life has deigned to confer on them. The result is to be seen in their physical and psychological shortcomings, as I have just explained, and as many readers (if they are honest) will concede.

It is certain that to regard as responsible for his acts someone who is himself not in the slightest aware of his responsibility poses a serious problem, illustrated by the way accidents are treated as something banal and pedestrians are mown down as if they were in a shooting-gallery. In countries lacking in road philosophy, respect for the driver comes second to respect for the equipment — as is logical given the differences in the state of mind and the tendency to fall prey to the materialistic domination. One only has to see how French drivers behave towards pedestrians, on reserved crossings or elsewhere, totally forgetting that this type of general violence generates other violence, and that when they in turn become pedestrians the other drivers will have the same behavior towards them or their children when they are crossing the road, This is the irrefutable proof that the French driver is totally incapable of the slightest degree of anticipation.

In England, Switzerland and elsewhere, cars do not charge at pedestrians on reserved crossings and this leads the driver to have a broader vision than that of a French driver and a much greater capacity for anticipation. And even if the British and Swiss drivers were to find it amusing to practice the French national sport of never respecting the pedestrian, they would be subject to very severe legal sanctions applied for this type of redneck behavior.

Their opinion of the French goes as follows; «France is a beautiful country but what a pity that it is inhabited by the French!». As for the Swiss, they prefer to remain discreet but this does not prevent them from having their own thoughts, trying to be among the leaders in terms of road safety despite a road network that is more complicated and even more dangerous than that of France. Before succumbing to bourgeois materialism, some people would do better to become more bourgeois in their attitudes – at least they would then control themselves and any vehicle in a manner at least halfway commensurate with their pretensions.