Yangon is facing traffic congestions of mammoth proportions. These traffic jams are causing frustrations not only to the motorists and commuters, but also extremely annoying to the bystanders—the pedestrians and the residents in the neighbourhoods of busy traffic areas. Along with the traffic congestions came the frequent cases of accidents, incidents of road rage resulting in exchanges of foul languages and sometimes even turned into scuffles.
Such things are very rarely heard of, or seen in large cities like Tokyo and Bangkok, where the traffic jams are notorious. There may be many other cities in the region where the traffic congestions may be commonplace, but as I haven’t been to those places, I give these two cities as examples.The number of cars and hence the volume of traffic in those cities are much larger and heavier than in Yangon. So, there would naturally be traffic congestions. Though there are frequent road jams in those cities that paralyzed the traffic flow and caused standstills for long durations are quite common, everything is calm, quiet and orderly unlike in Yangon, where such scenes are rowdy with continuous honking and filled with loud and abusive verbal exchanges.
So, what is at the bottom of the differences between those cities’ and Yangon’s traffic scenes? In my personal opinion it is the lack of driving etiquettes in our country. Here, I used the word “our country” because the lacks of driving etiquettes or to be more precise, ignorance of them are not only confined to Yangon, but widespread throughout the country. From my studies I found that the disregards for driving etiquettes are most common in the least developed countries.
Driving Etiquettes and Road Safety Tips
Although the subheading says “Driving Etiquettes”, what I’ll be doing is highlighting the bad driving etiquettes commonly committed by motorists, which should be avoided. They are as follows:-
1. Nudging pedestrians. Prodding the pedestrians crossing the road to hasten, by honking is very rude and should be avoided.
2. Elongated/excessive honking. Incessant honking is also a very despicable behaviour, which is very common in our country.
3. Tailgating. Driving too close to the vehicle ahead is tailgating and is very dangerous and at the same time very annoying to the driver in the vehicle in front. It amounts to nudging the driver in front. Always keep a safe distance between your car and the one in front so that you’ll be able to stop in time and avoid crashing onto it in case the driver in front abruptly braked.
4. Driving below or above posted speed limits. If you drive below the posted speed you will cause annoyance to the motorists behind and also slows down the traffic flow unnecessarily. On the other hand driving above the posted speed could put you in danger of being pulled up by traffic police for over speeding or could be involved in accidents.
5. Double parkings disturb the traffic flow and are among the main causes of traffic jams and should be totally avoided.
6. Driving in busy areas with high beams on. The headlights of every vehicle have low and high beams that can be adjusted by the driver. Driving at night with high beams on along busy roads would temporarily blind the drivers of the oncoming cars, which could result in accidents. Dip your light beams at such places.
7. Refusing to yield right of way to other vehicles. Drivers should oblige by yielding right of way to the other vehicles, which show their intentions to overtake or change lanes. Obstructing the right of way of other vehicle is very rude and could lead to undesirable incidents of road rage.
8. Driving with loud, distracting music. It would deprive you of your hearing ability and you would also be distracted and could end up in accidents. Furthermore, it would cause annoyance to other drivers and the bystanders in the vicinity.
9. Changing lanes and turning without use of signals. Always show your intentions to change lanes or turning using signal lights. It is a proper driving etiquette and would also keep you from getting involved in accidents.
10. Cutting off other motorists. Changing lanes by squeezing into a narrow space between two moving cars is a dangerous move of cutting off other motorists, which is bad driving etiquette and should not be done at all.
11. Driving below the speed of traffic in center or cruising lane. Driving below the speed of traffic in the center or the cruising lanes would slow down traffic flows and cause unnecessary traffic jams. Most of our motorists are ignorant of such things and have no regards for others.
12. Slowly passing another vehicle. When overtaking another vehicle, accelerate so as to pass it as quickly as possible. Shouldn’t use cruise control in cars with auto gears while overtaking. It would block the vehicles using the fast lane and disturb the traffic flow.
13. Distracted driving. Distracted driving puts other motorists at risk. You should focus solely on your driving to avoid such situations. Things to avoid while driving include: talking on hand-held devices, texting, eating, reaching for items, applying makeup, shaving, operating music devices, such as iPod.
14. Keep your passengers safe. When you are driving a vehicle the safety of the passengers are your responsibility. Observe every driving etiquettes to provide safety to the passengers.
It wouldn’t be easy and would also take sometimes to educate our motorists to familiarize themselves with the driving etiquettes and to properly observe them. Anyhow, we should start introducing strick procedures in testing the driving abilities of the would-be drivers who applied for driving licences. The issuance of the driving licences should be more stricter. An acquaintence of mine, who had stayed in London for some years while on government assigned duty, told me of his experience with the driving tests he underwent there.
According to him, although he had an international driving licences issued by our country, he had to undergo a driving test. The test was very strict. A driving examiner who came along with him evaluated his every move while driving along busy streets and roads of London. The examiner wouldn’t give any suggestion or advice while driving. At the end of the test he was informed that he failed without giving any reasons. So he went for a second test a few days later, this time with a different examiner. He failed again. He couldn’t understand why he failed because he thought of himself to be a skilled driver as he had been driving cars since he was a teenager. Then the last and third test came. If he failed that one he wouldn’t get another chance and no way of getting a driving licences.
Fortunately for him the new examiner was a man of Asian origin and seemed to be lenient, so he openly asked him why he failed the previous two tests. The inspector checked the previous records and told him that he failed because he didn’t observe the driving etiquettes properly. On further enquiring he was told, he used the horn unnecessarily and that the honking of the horn unless in a very urgent situation to
avoid accidents was very rude. He passed that test, but he told me, he had a very difficult time suppressing his urge to use the horn while driving.
I hope by now I have made it clear what proper driving etiquettes are, and the fact that they are very essential for motorists to know and observe them properly. In my desire to reform the undisciplined ways of driving by most drivers in our country, I may sound a bit pessimistic. However, I’m sure that most people who self-drive their cars would agree with me.