These drivers are among the most experienced, skilled and reckless in the world. This has as much to do with the treacherous, narrow, potholed, bump-ridden road network as well as the psyche of the local people. So if you are familiar with them or if you are one, then you will have no problems identifying with the facts outlined below.
A male is qualified to drive when his feet reach the pedals, no other qualification necessary; as most men first drive without any form of permit, license, or registration. You will almost never see a man driving a vehicle with a ‘L’ emblazoned on the front or back. Next, you will need extra funds to ‘acquire’ your driving license; a certain set of people are among the richest persons in this place. And by the way, you can also ‘acquire’ your car fitness permit and just about everything else on offer at the depots island-wide. So whether you are able to drive, read or make a coherent statement in English, write your name or scratch a signature, or pass the written driving test – are all irrelevant matters. By the way, females support these lucrative practices as much as men.
Road users, hate order – but this anarchical practice is all-pervasive and is evident at political rallies, sporting events, funerals and just about every and any other form of social gathering. In fact, the only places they seem to have any semblance of order are at the traffic lights (and you must be vigilant too or upon green you will be mowed out of your space) and also at banks. Hahaha they behave, and try to speaky spooky and can’t mash ants when they are in a bank, so much so that if they feel incapable of so deporting themselves they refrain from visiting there (but that’s for another time).
Brace yourself, you are in for the ride of your life as the culture is deeply entrenched in our driving techniques and styles. When you drive here you will need rear-view mirrors as large as your windshield. Adhering to emergency vehicle sirens, driving two car lengths behind, and driving at the speed limit are exceptions, not the rule. And how many of us knew a Driver’s Guide exists, or ‘see’ the road signs which are largely obscured by overgrown vegetation or urgently need a paint job. (Otherwise, whatever you want to hide from a us, put it in print).
Suffice to say, driving at the speed limit is such an anomaly that if you do, more than likely you will be cajoled, heckled at and ridiculed for being female, the coward driver, or a road hazard. And since most of us are conformists, we learn to break the speed limit so often, that traffic police earn left and right from the many ‘hapless’ victims; do not mention the government’s tax coffers (don’t believe me, well the tax collectorates have a designated line for traffic ticket payments and we have traffic court separate and apart from other courts). They view all laws as punitive and so the sole objective is to break them as soon as they are enacted; irrespective of whether it relates to driving, lottery scamming, taking innocent lives or paying taxes et al. And where else in the world are animals, road victims as much as people? Animal rights will be elevated soon to the top of the agenda.
Wet roads mean very little to many and overtaking is a special skill learnt only when you are immersed in driving then you will see that neither space nor time are required, all you need is haste. So never mind the long line of traffic, just be selfish and impatient enough to squeeze in or force another off the road as there is no need to wait your turn; so as soon as you see an opening just lounge forward, as more than likely those in front are going nowhere and will just have wait their turn anyway.
In this land, the government will have to find funds and land space to provide for separate road networks, a special law is also more than urgent; especially for taxis and other public passenger vehicles. Bus stops serve no other purpose except to provide ‘shady’ from rain and sun. How many times have you seen five or six passengers standing and waiting on the next bus or taxi all in different spots (randomly and dangerously chosen) and in close proximity? And overcrowding, that is never an issue with a PPV (never mind the police or insurance requirements), and where else in the world do you have ‘park assistants’ who provide the vital service of harassing passengers, wherever the PPV operators choose to designate as their ‘legal’ stand. Also, N.B. PPVs are custom built without indicators, brake lights and with removable and or makeshift middle seats.
Separate roads and laws are urgently needed too for trucks, trailers and other heavy equipment, riders (especially the bikers, who are wreaking havoc on our already stressed health care system), but most needed is one for pedestrians. Pedestrians operate like motorists and have not a clue about how to use the roads, sidewalks (real or perceived) and pedestrian crossings. Pedestrians dare drivers to stop at pedestrian crossings (by the way these are traffic lights here) and single-file walking is unheard of; that’s because pedestrians are classified here as motor vehicles, and hospitals in fact have on their payroll; mechanics and body work specialists. Additionally, If you try driving in a busy town, you run the risk of damage to your person and property; inflicted by the higglers and food vendors who take the market to the streets.
Word of caution, things work for ‘good’ as well as bad, so at any time your vehicle papers can be reproduced with great speed and authenticity- and you may never be able to prove you are the real owner of the motor vehicle. But it’s not all bad is it? There are many courteous and kind-hearted road users (just not the majority) who will always give a bly (not females) or stop to assist when you inevitably buss a tire or have a flat. Just don’t be so unfortunate on the tolls – there it will cost you your arm and leg.
Also please, the speedometer in our vehicles is not there for us to check our speed only. It’s actually useful for calculating time and distance parameters, so next time you set out just check the speed limits in place and work out how long it will take you to reach your desired location driving at the legal limits, and then leave in time to reach on time. And before I go, I must implore us to continue/start practicing random acts of virtuousness, which are as applicable to the road as they are to other spheres of our lives. I daresay say, that if you think about it, our road rules and regulations are platformed on common acts of kindness and selflessness and we can exact change one person at a time (hopefully). Happy Driving!