Yesterday we were talking with some friends about a student who is trying to get her Tanzanian driver's license. Since the student is American, we were discussing how learning how to drive in Dar is vastly different than learning to drive in the U.S. Learning to drive here has been like gaining an entirely new skill! Here are some of the "unwritten" driving rules we have discovered during our five years here:
1. Tanzania is a former British colony, so drive on the left side of the road. (That is, unless it’s more convenient to drive on the right.)
2. The bigger car gets the right-of-way
3. If you have a red license plate (government), then you have the right-of-way
4. If you have a blue license plate (United Nations), then you have the right-of-way.
5. If traffic stops in your lane, feel free to drive on the shoulder. Or the shoulder of the other side of the road. Or into on-coming traffic. Whichever gets you where you need to go the fastest. Pay no attention to the fact you are actually making traffic worse.
6. Getting pulled over often depends on the color of your skin, not on breaking a traffic rule.
7. When you come to a traffic light, stop only if you feel like it. Ignore the traffic light if there is a police officer in the intersection directing traffic, because he always trumps the light.
8. If the traffic light isn’t working, and there’s no police officer, close your eyes and drive through.
9. If you hit 40 mph…whew! It’s exhilarating.
10. Drive offensively, not defensively, or you won’t ever get anywhere.
11. At night, always drive with your brights on, unless you feel like being considerate.
12. Always drive with the assumption that at any moment, any one of the cars in front or the sides of you could spontaneously pull into your lane. Assume that they will.