Four-wheeled social pathology
We are all a little bit into the crazy driving through the streets of Skopje, we rush to meet our own and other people's destinies prematurely, nervous, deconcentrated, careless, unkind, many and quite crumpled… Thousands - say police statistics - do not even have driver's licenses, Hundreds of cars last saw their technical registration with Preklan snow.
I have owned a jeep for quite some time, Ford Explorer (red, sports edition!), which this year makes its duly registered 32nd summer since it was produced. At one time, I got it, with a small mileage, from a beautiful - both as a man and as a top diplomat - German ambassador to the country who bought it during her diplomatic service in New York, and then as an ambassador drove it to a picturesque African country, before to come to work in the country. (She, in every way, a huge woman, a real top intellectual and wine connoisseur, is no longer physically with us, but I am sure she is still in the minds of many of her friends here…)
That Ford model, in the 90s of the last century, was the best-selling SUV in the "Land of 4-wheel drive", USA. It is an undisputed beast: weighing about two or three tons (depending on how I ate that day), with an engine of 4,5 thousand cubic meters and still respectable 150-160 horsepower, it raises a hundred in less than 10 seconds (depending on how I am he ate that day), and I chopped wood with him, tied to the back hook, for which excavators would be a good idea!
I have a few friends and acquaintances who, as much as they beg me, curse me even more that I do not want to sell it to them, but I tell them not to worry, because as they get older, the Ford becomes more expensive, so I plan when one day they will I offer to bid, to live more comfortably for at least a few years of retirement, because from the state pension that would follow me, I will not be able to drive him to the gas station even once a month.
Elem, what is the whole story about…
My Ford Explorer has a small but dangerous secret: the front bumper (bumper, de!) Is, at first glance, made of some kind of composite plastic, what if, but if you lean over and look behind that mask, you will see that there is something under it a grandma thick metal bar that looks more like a tram rail!
Well, subconsciously, that rail is the reason why I drive the jeep less often on the streets of Skopje: if it happens in time not to press the brakes, I could easily enter the front seats of any model of today's models with it. expensive car sheets rolling around the city. The Ford would not even scratch, I will only need to iron the front plate! If you understand what I mean…
Usually, I drive my Ford like that Driving Mrs. Daisy, slowly and carefully, but sometimes, even for a moment, I think that the jeep is the adequate weapon for bringing order to the traffic chaos in Skopje! "Even if I weld a thick radiator in front of the rail, it would be very good for correcting the aggression with which I drive around the city: how come I did not run into one of those who rush through the streets, who parks who will get where, who drives." hands-free ”while talking-on-the-phone-smoking-a-cigarette-and-sniffing at the same time, which traffic lights and pedestrian crossings treat as non-binding, advisory traffic aids, and hundreds of other drivers as life-threatening enemies slowing them down to their next coffee they need to drink it somewhere…
And the next moment chills flood me, I say to myself - what an atavistic, aggressive fool I must be to allow myself to get annoyed to the point of thinking that traffic justice can be taken into my own hands, which would surely result in some correction of the local street demographics. That can not be the way!
My word is, we are all a little bit into the crazy traffic on the streets of Skopje (and the Macedonian roads in general), we rush to meet our own and other people's destinies prematurely, nervous, deconcentrated, careless, unkind, many and quite crumpled… Thousands - Last year, as many as 24.054, according to police statistics - they do not even have driver's licenses, hundreds of cars were last seen with technical registration with Preklan snow, and in 2021, grotesque 104.703 fines were imposed for speeding!
This general four-wheeled social traffic pathology is generously helped by the condition of the roads, by inappropriate or non-existent signs and road markings, but also by public transport and taxis whose logic of existence would not have passed even in Kampala (Uganda) thirty years ago. .
What, then, is the solution (if I do not have to swallow a Ford radiator)?
Official data say that the average number of deaths per year on Macedonian roads and streets is declining from year to year, although it is still (last year) the high number of one death every third day of the year. We know, from year to year the traffic police punish and control more intensively, those comparative statistics are drastically increasing, but it must continue.
What is still missing in this equation is our individual driver variable. Yes, traffic accidents can happen to anyone even when all the rules are obeyed - but a hundred times more when they are not.
The rabbit is in that (our) car.