Bad driving habits and bad drivers

‘You need to practise being smooth and also consistent’ – Warren Tucker – The Car Guy.

SIKI MGABADELI:  We are in conversation now with The Car Guy, Warren Tucker, talking driving habits and of course the impact that those have on your car, but also the courtesy that people lack sometimes on the road. It’s so annoying.


SIKI MGABADELI:  Warren, good to see you.

WARREN TUCKER:  How are you doing, Siki?

SIKI MGABADELI:  I’m great as long as people drive properly.

WARREN TUCKER:  Yes, for sure. Driving habits are what we are referring to at the moment. People fight with the taxis all the time, and they fight with the taxi drivers all the time. But I want to offer up what I see there as an issue – it is actually the passengers, because the passengers tell the taxi driver to “stop here,” and the taxi driver stops where he is told to stop – whether it’s in the middle of nowhere, whether it’s in the middle of the traffic. He stops and he backs up everybody else and one person gets out of the taxi.

SIKI MGABADELI:  Who was sitting at the back.

WARREN TUCKER:  Exactly. They walk out of the taxi and they walk into wherever it is that they are going, right there. Also they want to be dropped right there, instead of where there’s a little gap where a bus picks up people just down the road. Let the taxi driver stop there. You are not inconveniencing anybody else and, and, and. That’s the one aspect of it.

The other one, though, and I’m sure you’ve seen this, is where the guys ride in the yellow lane and just do their own thing. What’s frustrating for me is – and anybody who’s driving on Witkoppen or Christiaan de Wet will see this – there are metro cops standing there…

SIKI MGABADELI:  Waiting for you to do so.

WARREN TUCKER:  These guys do it and the metro cops are just not interested in pulling them over and fining them.

SIKI MGABADELI:  They don’t stop that?

WARREN TUCKER:  Nope, they don’t stop them.

SIKI MGABADELI:  The metro cops are my biggest fear. I try to not do anything that’s going to bring them after me.

WARREN TUCKER:  You’ll be surprised how quickly your rights as a person can be taken away from you. I’m going to share something with you now.

I purchased a car about three years ago and the vehicle had a paper plate put on it by the dealership. I parked, went to a place called Autostyle in Mayfair to get a couple of things for the car, having parked in the street. What happened was this metro cop evidently had driven up and down the road and noticed the vehicle. I walked back to my car and got in the car and was about to drive off when they pulled up there like I stole something. They got out of their vehicle, guns out, saying “get out of the vehicle,” da da da.”

Anyway, what I hadn’t seen when I collected the car was it still had the previous owner’s licence disk on, even though there was a paper plate on it. And what they said was that this was fraud, because you cannot drive with this disk on with the paper plate on. Even though I showed them I’ve just signed for this vehicle, it’s a second-hand vehicle and I’ve just purchased it, they weren’t interested in hearing what I had to say.

Basically the metro cop’s words to me were: “How does a young man like you afford to drive a vehicle like this?” So the very next thing was I got into the car, drove the car to the metro office in Joburg City. They impounded the car and took me to Joburg police station and locked me up for fraud. They literally wrote on the docket “fraud”.

SIKI MGABADELI:  So you couldn’t even go with him to the dealership?

WARREN TUCKER:  He wouldn’t hear anything, he wouldn’t do anything. He wasn’t interested in hearing what I had to say, or particularly the papers that I had there. He just locked me up. That was his thing.

SIKI MGABADELI:  How did you resolve it?

WARREN TUCKER:  Well, what I had to do was I had to first of all get hold of a family member, who then got hold of the family lawyer. I think I was locked up at about 11:00. I came out towards the early hours of the evening, just as the shift-change happened in the prison. I’d never, ever, been in a situation like that.

So, notwithstanding anything else, okay, what am I going to do now? Clearly I’m going to spend the night here because, as soon as I made that call, my phone was taken away from me. Then you are put into the cell with a  whole lot of people, and everybody is sizing you up and all that kind of thing.

But I eventually got bail. Now, the thing is, this metro cop knew what he was doing, because you don’t get bail for fraud, if they write “fraud” on the docket. Anyway, the gentleman there eventually called an inspector. The inspector came and said: “But this is not fraud, this is a misunderstanding.” Anyway, I had been charged already. He gave me bail. I left and had to go to the Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

SIKI MGABADELI:  In order for it to be officially sorted. But again, I want to come back to the paper plate, because there are certain things, I suppose, we as drivers or people who purchase a car don’t think about.

WARREN TUCKER:  Correct. Your permit – this is what it’s called. It’s a 21-day permit. It is there for the dealership to register the vehicle in your name. Now, remember the whole debacle with e-tolls. Your e-toll would work by capturing your registration on your vehicle. So what a lot of people were doing was, because of the fraud at the licensing department, they were able to buy these plates.

Now, how it works is your plate is issued by your dealership on completion of a roadworthy on the vehicle. The vehicle must be roadworthied, right, and your roadworthy is valid for 60 days. So what ended up happening was guys were buying these permits. The metros caught on quite quickly as to what was happening with people driving on the highway with this permit on – because you can legally drive with it for 21 days provided you’ve got a roadworthy.

Obviously you say the vehicle is being registered into your name. So what was happening is they were impounding vehicles, because this vehicle is in your name already, and they can check. They can see that this car has been allocated a registration and you are basically trying to defeat the ends of justice – and they charge you with that. And that’s a hectic thing to be charged with.

That was around the whole issue with the e-tolls. A lot of people will say to you okay, well I’ve this paper plate on my car, it’s up to the dealer to make sure that I get my plates. Well, the thing is you purchased the car. The onus is on you to phone and follow up with the dealership and make sure that you get your plates.

There’s been a whole issue around pop-riveting your number plate on the car. Basically what they do is it’s almost like they are taking a nail or a button – a pop rivet, I’ll show you one, is difficult to explain to people on air – but what they are doing is they are permanently putting that plate on your vehicle. Remember also we’ve got a high instance here of number-plate theft.


WARREN TUCKER:  So they are pop-riveting, they are permanently bonding that plate to your vehicle. That at the moment is how your vehicle must leave the dealership once your plates and stuff are ready. It must be pop-riveted to the car, it must be a steel plate.

Now, what’s been happening again is we see them riding around. So if you’ve got a registration that is, for example. DR 69 and two letters GP, as a modern plate, you have to have a steel number plate. So what some gentlemen are doing – and ladies – is making plastic plates out of that. You are only allowed to have a plastic plate if you’ve had a car that’s got the three-letter, three numbers…

SIKI MGABADELI:  So not the new registration.

WARREN TUCKER:  Correct. They must be steel. The older vehicles will have plastic still. So, if they catch you – and I’m saying this because I’ve seen it – they will impound your vehicle. They will also want to know where you got this plate done, and they will want to shut down that specific operation.

SIKI MGABADELI:  Goodness. We’ve talked about taxis, we’ve talked about PET plates. What else are you seeing on the roads?

WARREN TUCKER:  You know, you’ve got this thing where people race to robots, the lead-foot story.

SIKI MGABADELI:  Ja, stop that nonsense.

WARREN TUCKER:  So you will go from one robot to the next robot – as our Minister of Transport said, “These Vrrr-pass”. Anyway, going from robot to robot you are actually wasting fuel by tramping the vehicle like that. Petrol has gone up, everything is going up at the moment. Tyres are going to become more expensive, the wear and tear on your vehicle is going to be higher. We are not saying to you don’t enjoy your vehicle, but when you are in town, driving between robots, change it to 2 000 RPM, change between 2 000 and 2 500 RPM, and conserve fuel.

At slower speeds, ride with your window lowered and open, get some air in your vehicle. At higher speeds, close your windows, put your aircon on. When your windows are down you create drag, you are using more fuel. With your windows closed on the highway at higher speeds you are using less fuel with the aircon on, as opposed to having the windows open.

SIKI MGABADELI:  I always thought if you had the aircon on you are just using more fuel.

WARREN TUCKER:  You are, but in certain instances it works to your advantage when you are travelling at higher speeds.

SIKI MGABADELI:  Let’s take a call – Phaki in Cape Town. Hi, Phaki.

PHAKI:  Siki, good afternoon to you and your guest in the studio. Siki, what a wonderful topic this one is about driving habits on our South African roads. Oh, my goodness, you must come to Cape Town.

SIKI MGABADELI:  What happens there?

PHAKI:  I think there is a special code here for bad drivers in Cape Town. All of them, they pass with distinction, whatever you call it, and they get spread out over the whole of the Republic of South Africa. I know people in Cape Town might be saying, how come you market Cape Town so badly – but it is true.

Siki, however, I’d like to disagree with your guest in the studio that taxi drivers are bad drivers because of the customers, their passengers. No one can actually tell you “Drive in there,” and knowing fully, for sure, that you are a licensed driver [chuckling] then there you go and drive in there. Bad, bad taxi drivers.

But I also include the motor bikers. I used to ask myself on average per day how many motor bikers are caught up by the speed cameras in a 60km zone. You see them when they pass you – Sheee… [unclear, fast talking].

SIKI MGABADELI:  Thank you very much, Phaki in Cape Town. I’m terrified of bikers because you never see them, you kind of hear them and then you’re paranoid.

WARREN TUCKER:  Here’s what I’d offer there. Being a biker, I will say this right now, that, yes, there is a lot of education can needs to go to the bikers. Going back from there, there’s education that goes through to the motorist as well. So I’ll start with the bikers.

You need to obey the rules of the road. Stay in one place all the time. I’ve watched  guys on the highway that zip from one side of the highway to the other. People are looking for you and they don’t know where you are. I always say that a noisy bike is better to have than a bike that’s quiet. The reason is that people will hear you coming and they’ll start looking for you.

On the N1, the hard shoulder in the fast lane is not a lane for motor bikes. They think it is, but it’s not. A couple of people have had horrible accidents there. They’ve lost toes, they’ve lost limbs, because they get squashed between the vehicle and the wall there and get thrown over. So it is not a lane for bikers. People get cross when they see bikers driving between the vehicles. That’s called lane-splitting. It’s perfectly legal as long as you are not flying down between the cars at 200kmh. You are allowed to split between the vehicles at a reasonable speed. If there’s traffic I’d day about 60kmh. Also be aware that people might change lanes, so look out for that.

SIKI MGABADELI:  That’s why it’s got to be a slow speed.

WARREN TUCKER:  So you can react. A lot of the bikers have sort of a love-hate relationship with motorists, because they want the motorists to look out for them, they want the motorists to respect them and the rest of it. But a lot of them don’t offer that same thing back to the motorist. I’ve seen guys break people’s mirrors in traffic because somebody has changed a lane and maybe didn’t see them.

SIKI MGABADELI:  That happened to me.

WARREN TUCKER:  I’d say to you keep calm, practise calmness, a calming environment for all. We are all trying to get to work, we are all stressed out because there is traffic. If everybody is on the same page I think it would go fine. But definitely – that hard shoulder is a problem. Within my club we’ve educated our bikers, the West Rand guys – you do not use the hard shoulder. It is dangerous.

SIKI MGABADELI:  We’ve got time for one more very bad habit.

WARREN TUCKER:  Aha. Have you ever driven with somebody who accelerates, decelerates, accelerates, decelerates? That’s not good for fuel consumption. It’s also not good for your passengers, because they might feel ill by the time they get out of the vehicle.

SIKI MGABADELI:  Motion sickness.

WARREN TUCKER:  You need to practise being smooth and also consistent. A lot of people have difficulty keeping to 100kmh, or 120kmh on the highway, and they will accelerate the minute they see they’ve gone past 120kph, then they’ll take their foot off and apply brakes and okay, I’m going to slow and accelerate back up again. You are just burning fuel you don’t need to burn. The key here is to be consistent.

If you’ve got a speedo cruise please bear in mind that your speedo cruise does not have automatic brakes unless you know that the vehicle has that system on it. You will still need to apply brakes when the vehicle is driving on the highway and somebody  slows down in front of you.

SIKI MGABADELI:  You still need to slow down.

WARREN TUCKER:  If you are on the highway, practice using your speedo cruise. It will save you a lot of money in fuel.

SIKI MGABADELI: We’ll leave it there. Thanks for the tips. That’s Warren Tucker, who is our Car Guy. He’s back in two weeks’ time and we’ll do an open line with any questions that you have on cars.

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