Nigerian Driving Styles,are we rascally ?

Having driven in most countries of the world,I can state that driving in Nigeria , especially the city of Lagos can be described as nightmarish! It can make Schumacher the F1 driver petrified! I was driving down the road one evening. I came to an intersection. I saw this vehicle who also upon seeing me stopped too. They stopped because they were coming out from an avenue to enter the major road in which I was on.. I slowed down but continued believing they did the right thing by giving me right of way. Then out of nowhere this vehicle sauntered into my front. Note the word sauntered!

All effort to avoid hitting them was futile. I quickly brought my car to neutral and applied emergency breaks but still couldn’t avoid the accident. They managed to drive across to the other side of the road and parked with much difficulties. I pulled my vehicle off the road to the right side of the road I was in. This was a two-way road with two lanes on both sides. They were entering from my right side to cross over to the lane on the left.

I don’t want to even talk about the traffic rules and code in Nigeria and other countries and the discipline in obeying them. I have driven for the past 35 years and never had an accident. I have driven in Geneva, South Africa, Zimbabwe and New York, Malawi and Ghana and Dubai. Never have I had a traffic ticket let alone an accident. When I see the kinds of accidents people have in Abuja I wonder if it is madness.

I drove the cars of the organizations I worked for and never scratched the. GTZ, World Bnkand the UN etc. I those organizations you repay the amageyou do to their cars.

A yellow fever man stopped me one day in Abuja claiming that I ran a red light. I felt terribly offended because that is like telling me that I am nine months pregnant and forcing me to believe it. I know the risk of running a red light. That’s suicide. I don’t want to die or kill another person so why run a red light. I told him so.

Back to the point of this story. As I came down from my car I realised there were three occupants in the other car – two ladies and a gentleman with fashionable white beards. They just stood by their car while I walked up to them. I noticed from the body language of the ladies that they knew they were wrong. But the white beard short and petite guy was puffing his chest with hands akimbo. He was preparing for a fight – verbal or physical- I don’t know. When I see a white bearded guy, I assume brains, wisdom and panache. Patrick O. Okigbo III and Ademola H Adigun sold this impression to me. Unfortunately this guy had none. Not even decorum. Not even class.

Anyway I politely greeted them good evening to which the ladies responded. When I asked if anyone was hurt, I could see how the ladies were impressed!! They responded that nobody was hurt. If it was in my other world, I would have charmed those ladies. They felt impressed by my priority.

Since this guy never said a word, I calmly waived them bye bye and walked back to face my damaged car. I faked ease and joy. I also thanked Godthat it wasn’t deadly.

Honestly I find it absurd when I see people especially Nigerians get into terrible verbal exchanges over a vehicle accident that didn’t result in any injury to their persons. You will see them hold up entire traffic screaming over their scratched or damaged car. I can’t imagine my friends seeing me in that public altercation. It is simply a car!!

Many years ago when I got my first car, I drove it to the village to meet my grandmother. Her friends were rejoicing and I was also bragging about my car that I even forgot the lunch my grandmother prepared for me. When I came back having driven around with friends, she confronted me and said ” it is because of this pieces of aluminium pans on a rubber that you ignored my meal?”. My car described that way? It was the sharpest put down I got and deflation of ego. Since then I realised what a car is. My grandmother would always say ” forget the name of the car so long as it takes you from point-a to point-b”.

Now my observation regarding the accident was that this lady driving the jeep was learning. The other lady was at the back. The gentleman was sitting by the passenger’s seat. I made this observation as they alighted from their jeep.

It became clear to me from the way the vehicle sauntered into my path, the lady was learning and the guy was teaching her. They clearly decided to use the opportunity of light traffic at night to learn to drive. I overheard the lady state that she didn’t know how the jeep moved onto the road. Anyone who has tried teaching people how to drive can understand the predicament of this lady.

Apart from this observation I think it is wrong and unwise to teach a wife or girlfriend or anyone how to drive. I refused teaching my girlfriend or wife howto drive. Never. I rather pay you go learn from the driving school. Love and teaching don’t go well. Send her to a driving school to learn. Secondly it is also unlawful to put anyone behind the wheels who has no driver’s license learners permit with a red ” L” signage indicating that the person is learning.

Thirdly there are basic rules or traffic codes. In some countries they drive on the right side with the steering wheel on the left. While in some others they keep to the left side with the steering on the right side.

There are reasons. In Zimbabwe or South Africa where they keep to the left with steering on the right, you give way to any traffic coming from your right. It is so because from your sitting position you can see oncoming vehicle with much easy. Even as you approach a roundabout you give way to traffic coming from your right. There is what is known as a blind spot in your car. Hence in different jurisdiction you overtake from the right or left based on their rules but it must be from the side the other drive can easily see you.

In Nigeria people overtake from every side. They don’t give right of way to anybody. Approaching a roundabout you give way to the traffic coming from your left and the same when you approach an intersection.

In Pretoria and Harare they have traffic lights on all major roads. However there are also other roads or avenues they don’t put traffic light. In those roads you see ” Stop Signs” on the post and boldly inscribed on the tarmac at those intersections. We have these in Abuja but mos motorist see it as decorations.

When vehicles arrive on a four road intersection. Each stops. The one from the left goes followed by another from the other side and turn by turn and on a rotational basis each car crosses over from each side. The vehicles arriving later queue behind and follow accordingly when it is their turn. They don’t need a traffic police or yellow fever to do this. In Nigeriawe all put our heads together like hundred rams in a lock horn fight.

It is simply acquired learning and applied discipline.

Sadly Nigerians don’t have these!! Let anyone challenge me on this.

Meanwhile let me go repair my car. Thinking of the budget while taking my morning green tea. Life is better than a ” pieces of pan on a rubber”

Charles C Achodo

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