Hi everyone, it's a new day and the Christmas season is upon us. If you live in Nigeria, then you'll be familiar with the term "ember month". For the benefit of those who don't understand. "ember" simply refers to the last 4 months of the year with the suffix -ember. It is believed that most of the accidents in year occur during this period. This is because of the rush to get things done, make extra cash for spending during the yuletide. With that in mind, I decided to write this to remind us of things we shouldn't do while driving. Some of them have become so common that they are almost regarded as normally. Still it's good to be mindful, so that God willing, we will wish each other "a happy new year".
This is the list of top 20 things not to do while driving and they are in no particular order. Not by preference or alphabetically. They include;
- Sneezing: I didn't know about this until I watched it on a show on TV. I wondered as to how one could prevent themselves from sneezing, since it was an involuntary action. The analysis was as follows; when you sneeze, you close your eyes and a type of force rips through your body down to your feet (your are probably accelerating at this time. The force makes you accelerate more and with your eyes closed, who knows what might happen? The solution is this; since you feel is coming, slow down considerably and watch the distances between you and other passing cars and object. Try to align yourself properly before it comes full-blown. What I do is pin my nostrils together with my left hand and it reduces the impact of the sneeze. Not sure if that's totally the right thing to do though. it hasn't caused any damage to me yet.
- Blinking: The is close to sneezing but it is controllable. If there is no cause to blink, then please by all means try to avoid it. When you park your car and come out you can do all the "yanga" and "shakara "you desire
- Making or answering calls: Since the advent of cell phones, this is a practice that has almost come to stay, despite numerous warning. I am totally guilty of this and I'm working hard at stopping. What I do most times is put my phone in my bag, drop it on the back seat and turn on the radio so I don't hear it ring. Hand-free have been recommended for people who by all means must take their calls. I hope they don't take a call that distract their attention from the road.
- Texting: Also guilty of this practice. Lord help me. It is absolutely wrong. It divides your attention from the road. Funny thing is, the text may actually wait, so why do it at that time?
- Drinking alcohol: Lots of people have gone to jail and an early grave for this. Others to the hospital, sustaining permanent injuries. If you must drink, get someone you know and trust to take you home or call a cab.
- Sleeping: It may sound strange but it does happen. Most times though, not entirely the fault of the perpetrators. But if you took pills whose side effects include dizziness and drowsiness, don't driving. if you are extremely tired, don't drive. Some days, after my call, I'm so tired, I already know i might just sleep off while standing. I advice myself to take a nap i the call room before heading home. No hurries
- Bending to pick something out of reach in the car: Tell me why anyone would want to do this? It doesn't make you an expert driver. Just a bad one. The moment you turn back or bend down, you've totally given up control on the turn of events for a few seconds to minutes
- Eating: Another guilty one, but I try to eat something I can hold with one hand. No flying nylons and drink with straws to avoid covering my line of vision. Thankfully, many cars these days have a space to keep your water bottles, so you don't have to worry about your drinks spilling. A bit safer than using both hands or drinking from a cup large enough to cover your whole face, still doesn't make it the right practice.
- Reading: What is so interesting in a book that couldn't wait a few more minutes till you get to your destination. I understand if you are reading for an exam or interview (but still). However, if it's just a book for the sake of reading? I reserve my comment.
- Loud music: I love good music and I love to blast it in my car. It becomes a distraction when you can hear the honking of the car behind you or when you start dancing with your buddies and lose your concentration.
- Emotional: Being emotional doesn't help when driving at all. It takes your mind of the road and upon what might be bugging you. Emotional like crying, raging, thinking of something else should be avoided where possible.
- Putting on make up: I have a friend who does this +Jumoke Ahubelem Ojo but I guess that's because she lives in the wonderfully crowded city of Lagos. Until I saw her do it, I didn't believe it.
- Having any form of sex: Some people have had various types of sex while driving, ranging from masturbation to oral to complete sex, especially at night. I ask how they ever think that complete concentration could be achieved while this is going on? beats me.
- Sewing: If suddenly you have a wardrobe malfunction while driving, why not continue driving, get to your destination, park very well and pull out your sewing kit. Sewing and driving seriously doesn't give you the award of "World's Best Tailor".
- Ear phones: This is definitely worse that playing loud music because in this case, you are totally and completely cut off from your surrounding. You don't hear the sounds from other drivers or if your car has developed a problem. You may be busy enjoying being wrapped up in your own bubbly cocoon when an unexpected turn of events might maim you for life. To be truthful I did this just fresh out of medical school and driving the first car given to me. It didn't have a radio.
- Over speeding: Ever heard the phrase "more haste, less speed?" That's right, it's very correct. A Nigerian musician "Edna" even sang a song about it back in the day. An excerpt is "where are you hurry to, if you don't reach your tomorrow?"
- Driving with a child or pet on your lap: With all the seat belts in the car and car seat in the market, why carry your child of pet on your lap while driving? Is it a way of showing your love for them by any means? maybe to the child or your neighbours. Wrong practice.
- Changing your clothes: This one is absolutely hilarious! Like really? what happened to your room or a stationary car. You'd think these people are in a kind of competition. If you are running late, at least put on the major items, carry you shoes and wear them upon arrival. Try to make the outfit a simple one like a dress.
- Driving in bad weather: Be it snow or rain, it is always safer to stay at home especially it you are just learning and there is no urgent matter to tend to.
- Poor driving lessons: This generally includes those who don't signal before turning, swerve between cars unnecessarily (usually in a rush), sudden u-turns e.t.c. Bottom-line you shouldn't be driving, get a proper learner's permit.
I hope I got through most of them. You there are some that I left out, please add them by commenting on this blog. Drive safely.