On my daily commute traversing the chaotic Kingston roads, I have come to encounter various categories of drivers and pedestrians. For entertainment purposes I began to classify these categories.
Firstly, there are the relatively good drivers who obey the road codes, drive within the speed limit and exhibit good courtesy on the roads. I believe I fit into this category of driver. By all means, I don’t believe we are perfect. Mistakes can and will be made, but not to the levels of madness.
The second category of drivers includes slow, turtle-pace drivers who are usually on their phones or are old and intimidated by the madness of the roads. So they go way below the speed limit, causing one to have to be constantly braking in order to prevent a potential collision. These, too, pose some dangers on the roads, as they will suddenly brake for no apparent reason. They might seem to be unsure about where they are going, and at times they seem like they are pulling over, at which time you may think to yourself, “Yes! Finally I can pass them!” Suddenly, they are back in the middle of the lane crawling ahead, apparently in fear of pressing that accelerator. It is therefore best to keep your distance from these types of drivers and overtake (cautiously) whenever you are able to do so.
The third category of drivers are the road hogs, a surprisingly large category that includes taxi and bus drivers and the individuals who have adapted their methods of driving and impatience on the roads. Characteristics of the road hog include extremely low levels of patience, refusing to drive or wait behind other vehicles, believing two objects can occupy the same space, an inability to keep to their lanes or follow the road code (even breaking red lights and never seeing stop signs) and randomly stopping anywhere at any time. They have a quaint disregard for other motorists and believe they are great drivers or “shotta drivers,” as they refer to themselves, thinking they are masters of the roadway despite the numerous dents and patches on the vehicles.
Road hogs willingly and happily seek to intimidate other drivers in order to reach farther up the line of traffic. Sometimes just moving one car space ahead seems enough for them to risk the safety of themselves and their passengers. Whenever you encounter one of them on the roads, it is best to pull to the side like a meek little mouse and allow them to pass. On a good day, you might pass them again farther down the road being ticketed by a police officer. Those are the wonderful moments when you wind down your window and slowly drive past, smiling at the frustrated road hog. On those days you know the wonders of Karma.
Then there are the horrible pedestrians, who at times can seem like cattle crossing the roads. Believing that they always have the right-of-way, they will be walking along and then suddenly step out into the road in an attempt to cross without even looking for oncoming vehicles. Sometimes they do see your vehicle approaching but decide to cross anyway, as they believe you must stop or slow down for them. Most times the good-thinking motorists will hit the brakes for reasons of safety; however, tragedy ensues when the road hogs meet these nonchalant pedestrians, with each thinking they are in the right and the other must stop.
In order to survive on Jamaican roads, one must develop a 360-degree line of sight and be forever vigilant, expecting any manner of madness at any given time. Awareness and a quick reaction time could mean the difference between life and death.