Almost every single time that I am on the road, I observe certain very common mistakes that vehicle drivers make. Every single time. It is no surprise, as the average Nigerian driver has never read the Highway Code and so are totally at sea in their ignorance. Here are those common driving mistakes:
Navigating Corners and Turns Poorly
Regardless of what direction you are turning to – left or right – the right lane (here in Nigeria, where the standard is left-hand drive vehicles and right-hand traffic) is your lane. Here it is again: the right lane is yours. Stay there. Even when turning left, keep to the right in negotiating the turn. The left lane belongs to oncoming traffic, even when on a straight stretch and you shouldn’t stray there except in emergencies or perhaps in the event of seeing a ditch on your side of the road.
Don’t forget to use your turn signal (trafficator) to indicate to other road users what direction you intend to turn to. Initiate the signal some metres before you get to the turn, not when you get to the turn.
Improper Use of Lanes
On a highway, the lane on the farthest right is the slow lane. If you are driving leisurely or your car is unable to go as fast as it should due to a fault, stay on the right lane. The farther to the left that a lane is, the faster is the traffic that lane is meant to service. In other words, if you are the fastest car on the road, you should be on the farthest left lane, and if yours is the slowest, you should be on the farthest right lane.
Note that this also means that all overtaking should ideally be on the left side of the vehicle that you are aiming to overtake.
Jumping The Amber Traffic Light
When waiting at a traffic light, the orange/amber light is not an authorisation to move. It notifies you to get ready to move. You may move only when the green light comes on.
If in motion and the amber light flashes, that is a sign that you should get ready to stop, and you should be slowing down at this point if it is safe to do so.
Pulling Over Without Signalling Properly
If you need to pull over, except in a sudden emergency, please use your trafficator early enough to allow other vehicles know your intentions. If you do not, you increase the risk of being hit or creating a nasty situation when the driver behind you attempts to avoid hitting you.
Ignoring Your Mirrors
It is amazing how many people drive without almost ever using their side and rear mirrors. It is a recipe for disaster. The proper and safe way to drive is to keep your eyes on the road, yes, and also scan your mirrors to see what is happening around and behind your vehicle at short intervals. Practice it. Master it till it becomes second nature. Some day, your life or someone else’s might very well depend on this skill.
This list is not exhaustive, but you will certainly become a much better driver if you take these to heart. Safe driving!