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Traffic Drives Nigerians Nuts, but a Trip to a Shrink May Go Too Far
July 27, 2011 8:32 AM   Subscribe

People often think that other drivers are nuts. The Nigerian authorities have taken things a step further, now requiring drivers accused of going the wrong way down a one way street to get psychiatric exams.
posted by reenum (22 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know where I lifted it from, but I've always been a fan of this particular saying:
Programming is like driving, in that when you're behind the wheel everyone else is a maniac.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:34 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"But Doctor, I was only going one way."
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:56 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The psychiatric exams are being performed by my Nigerian doctor friend who is making SO MUCH MONEY that he needs to transfer it to my bank account. He asked me for $5,000 ahead of time for the transfer fee, which I did because once the transfer is over he's going to pay me $50,000 for the assistance. I'm so glad the law is enacted because I'm gonna get rich!
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:00 AM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


The legal logic is simple, says Sina Thorpe, spokesman for the Lagos state ministry of transportation: If you violate one-way rules, "you should have your head examined."

Well, I guess have to agree with this. The legal logic IS simple.
posted by three blind mice at 9:00 AM on July 27, 2011


Because anyone who makes a mistake must be mentally deficient. This whole thing just rubs me the wrong way.
posted by asnider at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2011


The program doesn't go far enough. ALL drivers should be subjected to a rigorous mental examination every time they renew their license.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do remember once walking around downtown Fort Worth (which like lots of downtowns has a grid of one-way streets) and watching a truck repeatedly turn the wrong way down 1-way streets. I don't think I actually saw him going with traffic the entire time, through at least 3 or 4 turns. Thankfully the roads were pretty empty at that point so there wasn't an accident (that I know of) but that was pretty freaky.
posted by kmz at 9:13 AM on July 27, 2011


Other drivers are nuts, it's the only explanation for why they drive around at 70 miles an hour, tailgating the car in front of them, while talking on the phone.

Or, and this is a distinct possibility, that they aren't nuts, but woefully ignorant of how fucking dangerous their actions are, and if they had any kind of clue of how close to death they were constantly dancing, they'd completely rethink the way they operate an automobile.

But driving the wrong way down one way streets is a completely different matter;

That's just fun.
posted by quin at 9:36 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


But driving the wrong way down one way streets is a completely different matter;

I'm reading this in George Carlin's voice, as part of "More Stuff on Cars and Driving".
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:53 AM on July 27, 2011


My clutch linkage had just failed while driving down a one-way street (if I stopped, I couldn't get going again) when this Massachusetts-plates SUV came up the wrong way and I had to take a detour up and over the curb. I asked if she was out of her fucking mind, as she went by she called out "I was only trying to get to the museum!".
posted by dunkadunc at 9:57 AM on July 27, 2011


I really hate it when psychiatry is used as punishment.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:02 AM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


The US could definitely use this as well. If you're the kind of obliviously narcissistic solipsist who can toddle down the left lane of a highway with open road in front of you and a stack of fuming traffic piled up on your rear bumper, you definitely need to be sentenced to have your head examined. Because otherwise someone else is going to track you down and examine your head with a hammer.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:14 AM on July 27, 2011


"I really hate it when psychiatry is used as punishment."

That has a long and brutal history.
Yes its a wikipedia article but its one of the best I've ever found
posted by Blasdelb at 10:45 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I only personally know two people who have, or would, drive the wrong way down a one-way street: a woman I was traveling with who was driving in an unfamiliar area during a rainstorm and made the mistake, and a man who repeatedly told anyone who would listen that if he ever wanted to commit suicide, he'd do it by driving the wrong way down the freeway, taking out as many people as he could.

So I'm okay with this.
posted by davejay at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2011


I'm for this. If you get behind the wheel of a multi-ton death machine and lack the awareness, for whatever reason, to heed prominent signs indicating, "if you go this way you are DRIVING HEADLONG INTO TRAFFIC," then you are insufficiently capable of driving a car.
posted by cmoj at 10:51 AM on July 27, 2011


I really hate it when psychiatry is used as punishment.

That's the brilliance of my scheme. It's not a punishment, it's just a barrier to entry. Driving isn't a right, it's a privilege. It already has a barrier to entry, a license is required. I'm for any scheme that raises the barrier. Anything that gets some of the worst drivers off the road is a good idea. They should make the written test hard enough to disqualify the worst 50% of all drivers. And there should be a sanity clause.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:02 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


cmoj:
I'm for this. If you get behind the wheel of a multi-ton death machine and lack the awareness, for whatever reason, to heed prominent signs indicating, "if you go this way you are DRIVING HEADLONG INTO TRAFFIC," then you are insufficiently capable of driving a car.
Sometimes there are no such signs. I wound up wrong way on a one way once upon a time in an unfamiliar section of downtown Baltimore. There were delivery trucks blocking my view of the sign sign posted 10 or so feet from the intersection at the street sign level. Back in the 90s there was no "no right turn" sign at the intersections. It was only after I actually turned that I saw the cars parked the wrong way. Ay yi yi. I couldn't back out onto the road from which I'd turned and I got nailed by a cop. Crazily, she had me continue to drive half block the wrong way to get to the next turn!

Anyway I think people who read newspapers and put on make up whilst driving are even more fit for examination :P
posted by Librarygeek at 11:21 AM on July 27, 2011


Well, that's certainly an extenuating circumstance. In the past month in my town with exactly four one0way streets, I've witnessed one oblivious driver for whom the sign was definitely not blocked, and one who just thought it was okay to race against oncoming traffic to cut a half a block up to cross the one way street. Actually, I've seen people pull both moves on the wrong side of a divided street.

I don't know what the conditions were in your case, but the direction of parked cars is a clue, but an even better one is the lane markings.
posted by cmoj at 11:28 AM on July 27, 2011


I don't think drivers are psychotic. However, I do think they are sociopaths. Typical psychological exams may not reveal this, as it's only manifested when they are driving, or while commenting on Internet articles about bike accidents. So points to the Nigerian authorities for the right idea, but points taken away for poor implementation.
posted by zomg at 11:32 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


On my first visit to Lagos I was being driven from the airport to Victoria Island. Traffic heading out on the bridge was ridiculous, it looked like nothing was moving. Since we'd been crawling along ourselves from the moment we left the airport it was quite nice to finally get some speed up and a relief that we were finally going against traffic. It was right about then that I noticed cars coming towards us on our side of the bridge. At speed. Dozens of drivers had taken the light traffic on the inbound section of the bridge as an invitation to use it as an outbound route. I did quickly arrive at and express, through internationally accepted sign language, the conclusion that they all needed their heads examined.
posted by IanMorr at 1:22 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit, if that's the case then at least half the drivers in mainland China (warning: CNN report; traffic deaths depicted) would be under psychiatric care.
posted by bwg at 5:02 PM on July 27, 2011


I don't think drivers are psychotic. However, I do think they are sociopaths.

I remember reading in some Marshall McLuhan book, he said that Americans would never give up their automobiles, because it's the only way they can go out in public and scream and curse at people with no repercussions.

Unfortunately, your sociopathic assumption is inimicable to the flow of traffic. Every driver has to be in the same headspace, we all share a common understanding that we have to steer our cars in a certain way, and obey certain rules, and cooperate to a certain extent, to get to our destination safely. It only takes one guy ignoring that social compact, to do something we all know is wrong like driving the wrong way down the freeway, and everything falls apart with possibly fatal consequences. The law doesn't care if you are a sociopath, as long as you don't drive like a sociopath. I personally think the sociopaths should be off the road. I'd probably prefer you off the road, if your driving is an act of paranoia against [mis]perceived sociopaths.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:45 PM on July 27, 2011


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