It might seem harmless racing to catch the last bit of orange but "orange-dashers" threaten our society and risk lives.
We know it all too well - the demon of the orange robot and putting foot in the hope that we won't
have to spend two more life depleting minutes stranded at a red robot. So, we speed up when we see orange so we can make it to our destination 4 minutes and 14 seconds earlier, and we laugh at those fools who get left behind. In recent times, so called orange-dashing has become an extreme sport. In Johannesburg orange dashers even dare venture as far into
the first microseconds of red so that green for the other side now no longer means go. It means
"proceed with caution - there are still two cars racing through and you will just have to wait".
It may be speculated that the sport of orange dashing was invented by taxis, but our new favourite hobby is no longer limited to our crowd-carrying friends: Everyone and anyone pushes the orange frontier and it is especially vicious in our
major cities. I am always struck by how negligent South African drivers can be and how dangerous our orange-dashing exploits have become. But, it's all innocent stuff really, is it not? What harm can come of orange-dashing? This is Africa after all, T.I.A, so what does it matter on a continent where laws cannot be properly enforced anyway and fines can be buried away for the next road block's problem?
In Midrand recently, after slowing down for an orange robot and preparing myself for red, a bakkie overtook (on the left Mfowethu!) and brought orange-dashing to the next extraordinary level. At least one second into red, he skipped the robot entirely as green goers on the other side cautiously edged forward and waited for him to get his robot-skipping rush like a law-breaking junkie. There is a saying in South Africa that many people love throwing around: "Once the roads go, the country goes". To be fair, the saying was reserved for the pothole outbreak of the mid-noughties but as a saying, its true value lies in another realm all together. Once the roads go (and the appreciation of its rules and laws), the country truly does have something to worry about.
Orange dashing is the biggest threat to a functioning South Africa as it is the roads where we first and foremost, and most often, are subject to the invisible blanket of the law. The relationship between you and the state is most acutely felt on the roads and whether or not you adhere to road rules is a sign of whether or not you believe in the South Africa around you.
Dashing through an orange-cum-red is about more than saving time. It is about undermining the integrity of our society and the thinly veiled glue that still keeps us functioning from day to day in a South Africa that battles to uphold law in a corrupt-ridden and resource-depleted country.
Traffic officers might not pull you over if you orange-dash and yes, you might condemn them for not doing so. But how much better are we than them if we cannot uphold the law anyway without fear of their punishment? If we accuse them of not being able to do their job, how good are we at doing our job - the every day job of being a responsible citizen and stopping at an orange robot?
Remember, the invisible blanket of the law is ours to uphold as much as it is the police's to enforce, and on our dangerous roads, wouldn't we be better citizens than the officers we ridicule if the next time we saw an orange robot we pressed our brakes instead of our accelerator?
After all. That is the law and this our country. If we chip away at the value of our law, we are undermining our South Africa and risking the lives of everyone around us.