Two Continents, Two Driving Styles
I thought that you would enjoy this inter-continental comparison of driving styles, and that it might provoke a discussion of what's gotten into us on the roads.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I've just returned from two weeks of working in Nairobi, Kenya. As many people know, the traffic congestion there is so awful that it is captured in one word: "Jams."
Gridlock seems the norm, with cars/trucks/buses of all kinds crowding onto roads unable to handle them all. And yet ... a certain courtliness and grace exists there.
Unlike the D.C. area, Kenyan drivers have developed various hand gestures (none of which seem to involve just one finger) to signal other drivers to merge in front of them or to allow them to merge. Unlike here, Kenyan drivers don't wear deathmasks of frustration or anger. In fact, several times our cabdriver received advice from other drivers on alternative routes or how to avoid some of the larger Jams.
More times than I can count, our driver was also waved into a lane by a car who paused so we could merge in front of him.
I'm sure sociologists can come up with all kinds of socio-economic or cultural reasons for the good manners of Kenyan drivers. But my question remains:
Why must D.C. area drivers be so aggressive and rude, often bordering on dangerous? How much time would you lose out of your day by allowing a car on a ramp to merge in front of you? What thrill does it give you to drive inches from my bumper because I'm not quite going fast enough for you? We have a lot to learn from drivers in Nairobi where Hakuna Matata ("no worries") is a bumper sticker and a driving philosophy.
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