My wife and I witnessed a moto collision today.

It happened right before our eyes as the light we were waiting at changed from red to green. It was at a very congested intersection close to Russian Market. Just before the incident, we had been slow to move forward after the light change, for the simple reason that we had to allow the swarming motos on either side of our vehicle fill in the vacuum of space between the front of our car and the intersection.

And for all of her efforts at being the first to blindly push past the crowd, the unwitting young woman was awarded the opportunity to plow right into a numbskull and his two unfortunate riders. They had rolled the dice and blown through their red light and into this “winner’s” moto with a sickening crunch.

The human mind is astonishingly fast. I could tell from the corners of my eyes that the trajectories and speeds would result in a collision. I actually said, “BOOM!” as they made contact. Not that I wanted it to happen, but – it was just sort of a reflex.

It’s been bothering me for a long time now that moto drivers in Phnom Penh drive the way they do. I’ve dubbed it, The Road Realm Mystery. I’m hoping someone might read this and be able to solve or explain this mystery to me. Maybe someone who really understands human psychology can answer it. Or someone who thinks they’re tapped in to the psyche of these Khmer moto-fools.

Truly, there appears to be zero sense of caution among this group – NONE. It is a game of positioning on the road – that much I understand, and I have adapted accordingly. So, the moto dudes have this hard-wired programming they developed as children on the roads, that IF they have the position, nobody can violate that position.

But, why would they not consider the possibility that, even though they have the position, perhaps the person that they have out-positioned might not be looking. Or, if they have the green light, would it not be possible (and I know this is VERY far-fetched [but, for the sake of argument, let’s throw it our there]) that there are motorists that failed to see the red light, or are trying to impress their unfortunate passengers with their uncanny ability to blow through a red light unscathed? Heck, they’ve done it dozens of times and never hit a soul, with that kind of a track record – they’ll NEVER hit anyone. Maybe they’re extreme optimists.

Where is the sense of caution? Where? What are they thinking?

I don’t get it.