Although at first I was filled with terror, I quickly found that driving in Africa was not only easy but also much better than back home. Once I got used to the local official and unofficial rules of the road and drove on the left-hand side for the first time, I found getting around in Tanzania, South Africa, and Namibia efficient and easy. With that in mind, here are three reasons why everyone should drive like Africans and one where they fall short.
But first, keep in mind that this is a broad generalization. Even though I felt safe driving around this continent on my own, knowing the local rules and having a membership with an air medical transport company like MedjetAssist is always a good idea.
“Why does that truck have its turn signal on?” It only took a few miles on the highway to figure out that Africans are the world’s most courteous drivers. For example, when the coast is clear, a slower vehicle will let you know when you can pass by turning on the right turn signal. When it’s not safe, the driver turns on the left.
This little act of kindness wasn’t lost on me, nor was it lost on those who live there. When I waved in my rearview mirror to thank the courteous driver, he acknowledged back with a flash of his four ways. Brilliant. For years now, I’ve tried to implement simple handwaving back home, where there are way too many bad drivers. This is a whole new level of courtesy. I would later find this flash of the four ways goes both ways, for both “thank you” and “you’re welcome.”
In Africa, there’s a clear absence of road rage, at least on the highways. Given how courteous drivers in Africa are, this shouldn’t be a shock. Everyone is just trying to get where they need to go as quickly and safely as possible. Your time is no different from theirs. Doesn’t that make beautiful sense? Think of the frustration and anger we could shed if we all learned to drive like Africans? What a perfect world that would be.
African drivers have a great way of using the space around them. Although it may seem like there are no rules of the road in certain areas, Africans make space in an organized way. On the highway, drivers will slow down or pull onto the shoulder for you to pass. This is especially helpful with large transport trucks.
I love this place.
And 1 they can improve on…
Just when I thought I’d found a driver’s utopia, I find a flaw in why we should all drive like Africans. Essentially, pedestrians have no rights. This was clear when trying to cross the roads while living in Cape Town, and it became even clearer while visiting Kenya and Tanzania, where our driver almost ran people down. Pedestrians definitely do not have the right of way in Africa.
Then again, I guess this does make for a driver’s paradise.
We can all learn a few things from this continent full of what I perceived as crazy drivers at first. After giving it a chance, I found it to be a form of organized chaos. Just make sure to look both ways before crossing the roads.
What say you?
Thoughts on why everyone should drive like Africans?
Let’s hear it!
For more from Africa and beyond see HERE.