It’s just one of those "only in Indonesia" things…

So the other day the newspaper reported that a 13 year old driving a Mitsubishi Lancer managed to lose control of it, went through a guardrail, then went through another car and ended up killing 6 of the 13 occupants.

Read that sentence, and tell me how many things you spot that are wrong with it. I’ll help you out…

  • A 13 year old driver – under-age driving is a big thing here.
  • 6 of the 13 occupants – so is loading your entire family and any hangers-on into a single vehicle.

What takes the cake is that the 13 year old is the son of an Indonesian rock star, which pretty much guarantees that this story went from “just another day” to “fucking juicy as hell”, and will guarantee many a facepalm moment.

Here’s the first, paraphrased from this link: – the father decided that everyone should “share in the blame”. This includes the toll road operator, and the occupants of the other vehicle.

What. The. Fuck.

The one thing that everyone glosses over is that he let his 13 year old son drive a high-powered car without a license and thereby causing the deaths of 6 people. I don’t know about you but I’d consider that a pretty important point in all of this. It certainly isn’t something that can be easily forgotten, no matter how much rockstar dad wants to.

What it demonstrates though is the rather “laissez fare” attitude toward vehicles in this country. I often have to deal with 3 to 4 12 year olds riding a single motorbike, no helmets, no using signals, taking dumb risks – and that’s during the day. At night, you can add “not using lights” to the list for that extra “oh jesus christ what the fuck was that” kick.

It’s funny actually, the toll road is where I feel safer than the roads in the town I live in – at least there’s no kids on motorcycles there! And the chances of running into a 13 year old moron in a Lancer are also quite a lot lower.

But again, the whole story just illustrates how people just don’t seem to understand that cars are not toys, they are not status symbols – they are a mode of transportation that can, in the wrong hands, be deadly.

It also really sets off my pet peeve, which boils down to a lack of education on parents’ part. My mom and dad were always quite free in what we did, but the one thing they were rather strict about is that you do not stand near a moving vehicle, just because you never know for sure if the driver has seen you – and it’s easier for you to avoid it, than it to avoid you.

Here though, oh my. There is one turn I have to make to get to my house, it’s a sharp 90 degree turn on a road that’s perhaps 7ft wide – and I have to wedge a Nissan Pathfinder through that, which means I have maybe an inch on each side. Kids here tend to stand inside that single inch, and will just stand there and be “yeah sure come on, come on”. When I get too close, it’s already too late because there is nowhere for them to go. So I stop and ask them to move away, and get that deer in headlights look.

Of course, there’s also nothing more fun than to run after a car and try to jump on the rear bumper. I mean, that car will of course never have to suddenly brake, right? Well, wrong. Although admittedly I demonstrated why it was a very bad idea by smacking the brakes without reason. The 3 thumps on the trunk that followed should’ve proven the point, but apparently it didn’t because I’ve had to repeat the demonstration 3 times.

And even then it didn’t help, not until I asked my wife to fire up the local gossip mill and spread word that the bule (foreigner) was getting a bit peeved – this helped, for a short while. Then it was right back to having kids chase me around.

I wouldn’t mind so much if it wasn’t for the fact that if I hit one of them and cause an injury, it will automatically be my fault; and considering I’m a foreigner, that means that people will smell money, and will probably cause a mighty old ruckus just to get their hands on some of that money pie.

The real problem lies with the parents though, because they’ve never told their kids not to do any of that. Because their parents never told them, and so on, and so forth. It’s similar to people that will drive and have their kids standing in the middle of the car; you hit someone, they’re the first to notice that they just went through the front window, or the dashboard. Or kids that run out into the street from between parked cars without looking. That one really grinds my gears since usually it’s the parents that’ll come running after you’re done laying down 4 rubber tracks and will give you the dirty look, because obviously their precious little snowflake is free of any blame.

Going back to that and the article I linked to, that attitude is the main reason why there are so many road fatalities in this country, and the main reason why nothing ever changes. After all, having to look at yourself and admit you’re wrong isn’t something people like – rock star dad sure doesn’t, because instead of accepting he fucked up by letting his under-age unlicensed kid drive a car, he’s pointing fingers at everyone else. After all, his precious snowflake didn’t do anything wrong, did he?

Ben van Staveren

A somewhat odd traveler, wanderer, wonderer and all-around sarcastic pain in peoples' asses, most of the time. Keeps busy with IT security, random acts of geekery, and other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with IT, computers, or electronics. Can currently be found residing in Jakarta, Indonesia.