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World's Worst Drivers

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.

Washington, DC



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