Staying safe in Lagos traffic has always been an arduous task, one that constantly leaves me anxious. In the past few months, I have had 2 close encounters in which I was almost robbed despite the security operatives who are conveniently situated at the tail end of the traffic. Both situations were on the Adeniji axis while heading to the third mainland bridge from the Island.
My first encounter with Lagos traffic was probably in October at about 5 pm. I was heading back home from work with a colleague when a young man aggressively tapped on my window, demanding that I hand over my phone. “Give me your phone now”, he screamed. “Don’t try anything funny”, he added while acting as though he was about to bring out a weapon from under his shirt. When I wasn’t forthcoming, he tried opening my door but the doors were locked.
At that moment, all I could think of was how this man could harm me if he had a gun with him. I can’t deny that I also started to wish I had a gun on me too. Thankfully, the traffic moved a bit, giving me just enough space to swerve into the next lane as my colleague begged the vehicle beside me to let us drive in. As soon as we got into that lane, I looked and couldn’t find the man.
The second encounter was equally similar and at the same spot but this time, the man seemed older and could even pass for frail. Unfortunately, there was nothing frail about him. Initially, he walked past me and then came back to my window demanding money. I presume he had probably checked and noticed that I was a good target for him, seeing that I was driving alone and this was barely 6 pm.
“Give us money. I say give us money now”, he yelled at me. Trying to maintain my composure, I whispered, “I have no money”. While looking around the car, I heard him say, “Give me your phone then”. At this point, if I wasn’t sure before about his intention, that statement was all I needed to know that he wanted to rob me. Immediately, I turned my steering. Only to hear him say, “Look if you go anywhere ehn. Give me your phone now”. He pulled up his shirt as though he was trying to show me a weapon. Luckily for me, the line moved just in time for me to make a switch to the next lane.
2 times in one location, I sure needed to take my safety more seriously. I shared my fear with a friend who did give me some helpful safety tips which I believe could also help you too. Thus, I have included them in the list of safety tips to observe in Lagos traffic.
Here are my 7 safety tips to observe in Lagos traffic;
Always lock the doors and keep your windows up:
I understand that you may need to get some fresh air especially if your AC is not working. And for some people, using the AC in traffic only consumes more fuel. Well, my advice is to please have your windows as up as you can. Leave only enough room to get some air in. I almost never have my car window down and if the AC is bad, then best believe that my window is really high that no hand can go through. As for the doors, I am lucky to have my car automatically lock itself when I start driving. However, it doesn’t hurt to double-check.
Keep valuables out of plain sight in Lagos traffic:
Keep your phones inside the armrest or in the slots by the door. Your handbags should please stay on the floor of your car or in the trunk. Keeping them on the chair could attract hoodlums.
Be aware of your surroundings:
Use your rear mirrors to check your surroundings while in Lagos traffic. It is important to be alert.
Maintain some distance between your car and the one in front of you:
This will give you enough room to get out of the lane if necessary. I know it’s almost impossible in Lagos traffic but, you need to form that habit. Not just for you but for even the next driver.
Have an old or dummy phone handy:
This could serve as a distraction if push comes to shove. The moment you give them the phone, it could distract them for a moment, giving you some time to get out of that space.
Avoid the extreme lane:
Staying in the middle may be just better for you.
Get pepper spray:
I am not so sure about this, but it sounds like a good idea. However, I will rather try to get out of the lane than try to open my window to spray the attacker.
In all, it is imperative that we remain safe. As for the Government, it’s about time we beef up the security on these roads. Let’s have security operatives patrol the highways, especially during heavy traffic hours. This could possibly scare off these hoodlums and keep the roads safer for all.