Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ten Ways to Insult Other Road Users in Lagos by Funmi Adeniran

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Driving on Lagos roads can give you a headache. Horns are blaring as cars whizz by, dilapidated trucks are emitting strong green house gases from rusty exhaust pipes, and people are shouting curse words at one another. Occasionally, some people are raising the middle finger.

Throw in a hold up of unknown origin and you have a literal stampede across the streets of the largest metropolitan city in West Africa. Driving in Lagos is a test of will and fortitude and at least fifteen million people living in Lagos, do it daily.

It's hard to drive with decorum amidst the many annoying road huggers and rude high-way code illiterates. It's especially difficult because the decrepit roads we travel daily are punctuated with holes and pits that wait to ensnare one. But it is possible to do this if we can avoid the following insults to other road users.

 It's insulting to be blamed for an accident that was not actually your fault. It's even more insulting when someone hits you or nearly causes an accident and doesn't even stop or show a gesture of apology. It's worse when a driver hits you, stops, gets out of the car and can't even open his mouth to make an apology. It's either our morals have finally hit rock bottom, or some people are just plain slow.

 Avoiding road rage is what a lot of Lagosians need to burn into the bank of their memories. No human being, no matter how wrong he is, deserves to be told in sign language that 'His or Her head is not correct' or that 'Their mother is mad'. It is not right to insult anyone because no one is perfect and we all make mistakes on the road. No human being deserves to be screamed at or abused at on the road.

 It is wrong to feel that everyone queuing on the line is not nearly as smart as you are, and so therefore you cut out of the line and drive further down creating an extra illegal lane. Even worse, is the driver who heads in the opposite direction to oncoming vehicles in the bid to jump the queue. No wonder the state government needed traffic offenders taking psych evaluation tests at one point in time.

 It is insulting to horn behind a car in front of you, and ask them to get out of your way. The courteous thing to do is to overtake a slow driver. It's just as bad to horn behind a car in front of you, when there is an obvious hold up ahead or the traffic light is still on amber. Even a nursery school child knows that amber means get ready, and not go.

 It's insulting to know that a driver needs to get out of another lane, is trafficating, and you push your car forwards and block the space. Do let another driver into your lane even if you think they do not deserve it. Extend grace to other people because one day, you will need someone to return that favor to you.

 Be civil enough not to drive your vehicle into the gap in the lane so that vehicles driving perpendicular to you and going in another direction can come out of the compound, street or a filling station that they are in and go on their own way. Especially if the line of vehicles ahead of you are at a stand-still.

 Be patient enough to let the person buying fuel in front of you, shut his fuel tank, receive the extra change with the petrol attendant, start his/her car and put on the seat belt before you start honking in an annoying way. It's rude and unfeeling.

 It's insulting to stop in the middle of a narrow road of two lanes to drop off a passenger or buy something from a road side seller. The appropriate thing to do is to park to the side and let the cars behind you pass on unhindered.

 It is insulting to think because you drive a larger vehicle than most people, you have the right to hug the road especially when coming in the opposite direction. Other vehicles must respect your car enough to scoot to the side or nearly fall into a ditch because of you. It's wrong.

 It is insulting to insult anyone via words or hand gestures for any reason be it a wrong driving move or an accident. No human is perfect, and we do not measure up to the standards we often judge others by. Let your words be seasoned with grace and respect, even if the other guy is at fault.

In, conclusion, I will say that life is difficult enough without us making it worse for each other. Many drive on our roads worried, anxious, distressed and confused about one aspect or the other of their physical, social and emotional lives, and with the economy in the shape that it's in, it doesn't hurt to show a little respect to them on the road.

Do drive with decorum. Decide to be civil on the road. You never know if your civil gesture, will brighten up someone's dark dreary day or prevent an accident. Stay safe, and save a life in the process.

Check out Fumni's profile page on Naija Stories - http://www.naijastories.com/members/funpen
Read my writing on http://www.naijastories.com/author/funpen

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