Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Which City Has the Worst Drivers?

Depending on your experiences.....no one has exact and definite answer with universal agreement.

Is it Buenos Aires? Mexico City? Kuwait City? Rome? Los Angeles? Jakarta? Kuala Lumpur? Dubai? Mumbai? Paris? Ras Al Khaimah? Lagos? Cairo?
One of many things I have adopted and adapted from my days in New Zealand is driving skill, beside punctuality and work ethics. But over the years, I am no longer an examplary driver especially after living in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. Environment can change us for the worse or better.
The question is, which city has worst drivers?
If I could answer without really answering the question directly, I will say Singaporean drivers driving on Malaysian roads in Malaysia cities are among the worst drivers. These Singaporean drivers feel so free from the 'fine' city and can break any laws as the RM is cheaper than SD!
There are good and bad drivers in every city. The number is however varied, either majority of them is bad or good. We cannot generalize and put every one in the same basket.
In Dubai, from my experience on the roads since 2000, we can categorize these drivers based on their nationalities but that could tantamount to racism. Dubai drivers are supposedly the best with the local stringent driving tests but unfortunately not so. It could be the stringent tests that make the drivers crazy on the roads since passing driving test for majority is like passing Phd!

There is absolutely no contest -- the worst drivers in the world are Nigerians. They even joke about it: "A Nigerian drives with one foot and one hand -- one foot on the accelerator and one hand on the horn!"
The roads in Nigeria are generally bad, built by corrupt contractors who have cut corners on materials and cheated on specs.

Nigerian "highways" are generally two-lane undivided roads where, at any moment, you can encounter the mother of all potholes, a herd of livestock, an intercity taxi coming at you in your lane at top speed in order to overtake a truck, or a swarm of people running all over the road because there is
1) an accident,
2) a small hamlet,
3) a roadside market and so forth.

Goats, dogs, chickens, and cows can dart into the road unexpectedly and if you hit one, you buy it -- for much more than it is worth. And the roads are used by pedestrians, bicyclists and riders of small motorcycles -- all of whom think they own the road.

Nigerians have no driving etiquette or training and anything goes -- especially cars that have not been properly maintained and are driven too fast with no anticipation of possible consequences of this speed and lack of safety.

Driving in a Nigerian city is particularly challenging. Never mind the crowds of people and the number of cars -- if you have more than ten cars, there is probably a traffic jam (in Nigerian it is called a "Go Slow" and it is part of a driver's life).
The problem is that a Nigerian driver does not feel responsible for cars to his side or behind him. With "blinders" on, the driver is only responsible for the space directly in front and if that space is not occupied one can go for it.
This leads to situations where cars get backed up in all directions because two cars from different directions have moved forward into the same space (like an intersection) and cannot proceed.

One of them has to back up for the other to get by, and even if willing, is now unable to do so because the driver behind -- seeing a free space in front -- has moved forward. Frustrated drivers don't like being blocked like this and will drive up on the sidewalks to get around; but in no time the sidewalks are also blocked. The Go Slow can be a driving nightmare and it once took me four hours to make a 7-mile round trip in the city of Port Harcourt.

I have traveled to 36 countries in the world and driven in most of them. Trust me, Nigeria has the worst drivers, by far.

London Times correspondent Chris Ayres devotes his opinion on the subject.

[T]his week I returned from Buenos Aires, Argentina, a city whose entire population seems to be trying to break the land speed record in a 1984 Renault 9 GLS,” he writes.

“And I concluded that the lapses of concentration demonstrated by motorists in Los Angeles is far preferable to the sociopathic stare of the average Porteno cab driver, who considers it his duty to accelerate towards stationary objects (including human beings) at double the speed limit, before averting multiple homicide by stomping on the brakes or swerving violently.”
A poll of British tourists placed French just ahead of Italians and motorists in India, as the world's worst. Spain came fourth and Turkey fifth for the dubious accolade, in a poll by social networking site WAYN.com.

Inconsiderate or aggressive driving, failure to signal, making rude hand gestures and shouting expletives were the reasons.

Driving in foreign countries can be a great experience but it's important to make sure you know the rules of the road.

Other countries to make the top ten worst included Greece, America, Portugal, Germany and China. Famous French attractions like the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées which have no road markings also made France the worst country to drive in, with Italy coming second again.

Spain was voted third worst, followed by India and Greece. The average Brit has driven on foreign soil more than 10 times according to the poll, which revealed three quarters of British people are apprehensive about driving abroad.

According to the Brits:
1. France
2. Italy
3. India
4. Spain
5. Turkey
6. Greece
7. America
8. Portugal
9. Germany
10. China
1. France
2. Italy
3. Spain
4. India
5. Greece
6. Turkey
7. America
8. Poland
9. Jamaica
10. Ireland
There shall be a survey, which Malaysia city has the worst drivers?


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