Motorists, especially in Abuja are almost always in an unnecessary haste to get to their destinations. In slow moving traffic, you will notice the little millimeters of distance between cars left by drivers. Any sudden break or over-stepping of the throttle pedal will have you ram into someone’s car easily because the distance between your cars is so narrow as to allow even two people walking side by side to pass through. And that is exactly the point. Any little space will give someone driving by your side to easily get in front of you when she or he notices the queue they are on is momentarily struck and yours is moving. And in those moments, you might just get hit. Some when they hit you, either through the rear or side, unfortunately try to run away or IGNORE it till you decide to complain.
Almost every day, I see people getting into such minor accidents. A few weeks ago, I was driving through Area 10 to Area 11. The traffic was much then. At a point on the road, motorists from two lanes have to merge into one. And suddenly a car trying to merge into the single moving line bruised my rear side bumper. I felt it as I throttled forward slowly with the moving traffic. I kept looking at my rear view mirror to see the reaction of the driver that bruised me. I was also thinking I should halt the car right in the middle of the road and get out of the car to check the extent of the damage and demand for repair, thereby causing a longer queue.
But that faithful afternoon, the sunshine was intense. I neither had experience of settling a dispute on the road nor did I want to worsen the traffic jam in the scorching heat. I didn’t stop till at the office when I got out. Thankfully, the damage wasn’t much, but it can be overtly seen by someone looking at the car from a close distance. A friend told me with ₦500 (about $2.5), it can be fixed by applying some fluid to obscure the bruise. I haven’t done that till today, like so many other car owners. Just keep observing cars and you will notice they have minor damages here and there caused by others. The damage to my car didn’t bother me at all. Neither did it bother the culprit who I am 100% sure is aware of his wrong-doing but chose to ignore.
However, this past weekend was different. Some guy driving a 6 wheel canter truck was in a rush to overtake me just before a roundabout. He got past me quickly in a dangerous manner and smashing off my driver’s side mirror. The mirror crashed onto the hot ashphaltic road. At that instant, he was in front of me and was stationary as the cars in front of him had stopped for the cars in the roundabout to pass through. I unashamedly quickly drove past him and slant my car in front of his, just as the car in front of him moved. We were 3 in the car and all got out and approached him.
On getting to him, he was silent and kept on staring at us, allowing us to be on the prosecution side. We lamented how rough his driving was and his negligence of the damage he has done. Still looking dumbfounded, we agreed we move to the mechanic workshop just across the road to settle the dispute. In those roughly two minutes that all these happened, we didn’t cause any traffic hold up thankfully.
Off the road, he dropped out of his and started to apologize profusely. What I just said was wherever you were going, the hurry has all become futile as you have gotten yourself into a silly accident. He had no defense. It was his fault and he admitted. He bought a “zero gravity” adhesive and together with the seller, my friend tried to fix the side mirror back. Thankfully, it didn’t damage to pieces. It was all put back together and we left after about 20 minutes.
Running into situations like these is highly probable if you drive or get driven. How you approach to prosecute the defendant is key. If you do not react or block him or her almost immediately, he or she (Nigerians) can easily drive off abandoning you to tell the sorry story of how a driver hit your car, damaged it and drove away. If you are a quick one, once it happens, you have to quickly get out of the car and make the culprit get out of his or hers.
The impeding traffic hold up you will cause will propel you to move to the side of the road to settle the case amicably or not, in the presence of a police (when you hit an oyimbo or muzungu (how a white person is referred to in Pigeon English (Nigerian English) and Swahili respectively), they will call the police sharply) or not. Once you get out, try to see if drivers (jury) nearby have seen what happened so they may be on your side. The defendant won’t have guts to say it wasn’t his fault. And there, it is up to you to strike a deal, report to the nearest police station, locate the nearest mechanic or forgive and keep telling the story to your friends and family at home.
I did love to hear if you have been involved in any hit-and-run accident before.