Mission to Civilize: Basic Road Etiquette
I love Will McAvoy, so much so that I recently re-watched all three seasons of The Newsroom. Long story short, he abandoned his need to be likable by everyone and set out on a mission to civilize inspired by Don Quixote. I haven’t read the book itself or watched the movie, but it’s on the list.
Recently for what seems like forever, there have been road accidents. Most people blame these accidents on boda boda riders, because a lot of them result in death or severe injury. However, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into believing that because there are numerous car accidents (by both public and private cars) that don’t involve boda bodas that are as severe. Also pedestrians play a role. As such, the onus is on all road users to become deliberate in how they act when they are on the road.
I don’t know about you but I have seen enough RIPs, missed enough heart beats and attended enough burials/funeral services/vigils to last a life time. And that’s only this year. Granted death is inevitable, but we shouldn’t make it that easy for the grim reaper.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if we actively become better road users, avoidable situations can be avoided, by doing the simplest of things;
- Go to driving school, and actually learn: It might seem obvious however I have lost track of the number of people that brag about not having gone to driving school, yet they have a driving permit and drive every day. It is for your safety and those sharing the road with you. Imagine working with someone who only bought their degree, that’s how people feel when they share the road with you. I am not sure about the equivalent of driving school for bikers/boda boda riders but I hope there is one.
- Obey traffic lights: Even as I typed that, I knew that there are a number of situations that make that impossible such as the non-existence of traffic lights in some areas and traffic officers controlling the traffic in others. Not withstanding, this is not the case everywhere. If the lights say that it’s your turn to wait, please wait. You won’t get to wherever you are rushing to if you get injured in an accident.
- Acknowledging that other road users are also human beings: If you are driving and there is a zebra crossing ahead, please give the pedestrians a chance to cross. That is someone’s daughter that you are making hop around the road like a kangaroo. It could be your child, parent or friend.
- Tailgating is not safe: Every time you are driving, and drive too close to the car ahead of you, you increase the chances of an accident happening. The space between your car and the one in front you should be enough for at least one boda boda to pass in one motion. What this does is it allows for the car ahead of you to stop suddenly should the need arise, without you running into it.
- Don’t drive/ride too fast or too slowly: The reasons for driving/riding too fast are obvious, however also driving too slowly can cause road accidents. Driving too slowly causes a lot of overtaking by cars/bikes/boda bodas behind you and might cause accidents. It is advisable to know the speed limit of the road on which you are, and stay within that range.
- Crossing the road is not an opportunity to train for your upcoming sprint: As a pedestrian, you should take the time to assess the road situation before crossing. Look left, then right then left again, and if it is clear, you can cross. Crossing the road is NOT supposed to be instant. It is okay to spend a few minutes before crossing the road, just to make sure that it is safe to cross. Alternatively, you can make it a point to cross only at zebra crossings since it is easier/safer to cross at these points.
- Invest in an helmet: There are many people that either own bikes/boda bodas or use boda bodas but do not have helmets. If you can’t walk out of your house naked then you shouldn’t be able to use a bike or boda boda without a helmet. The point is that there is a chance you dressed up for nothing if you don’t have a helmet when you get onto bike or boda boda.
- You are the boss: This mostly applies to public transport users. If you are using a taxi/cab/boda boda, you should make it clear that you expect to reach your destination in one piece. If poor road usage continues, you should request to get off. You might be insulted but at least you will still be alive.
- In general, you have probably used all/most of the means of transport, so apply all the things that you didn’t like and don’t them onto other road users.
At the end of the day, do better, be better. Hold yourself to a higher standard.