He almost got us killed… but a lesson from my dad saved the day. Here’s the story.

I remember my father for many reasons but today I’ll speak of only one. He taught me a valuable lesson that has saved my life on more than one occasion. He said, ‘whenever you sit beside the driver of a vehicle, you must assume the responsibility of a co-pilot’. He said there are hazards along the way that drivers may miss and as co-pilot, you have to timely and calmly bring it to their notice. So, even if every other passenger goes to sleep, you must not.

I took that to heart and even on road journeys that last as long as ten hours, I stay awake the entire time if I am the co-pilot. Sometimes, even when I’m not, in that position, I still remain alert.

Travelling from Minna to Abuja one hot afternoon several years ago, we were in a station wagon taxi and as usual, the air conditioner wasn’t functioning. All the windows were down and a mix of hot and cold breeze made its way through the vehicle as the driver sped on. That road was often lonely until you got to the main express which runs from Kaduna to Abuja.

Sometime into the journey, all the other passengers were asleep and it was pretty calm, then the car began to drift into the other lane and back. From my seat in the middle row, I could see that the driver was battling to stay awake so I began to cough whenever it seemed he was going to close his eyes. Maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do but I succeeded in keeping him awake until we got to the main express and eventually to Abuja.

The second time I experienced this was in the UAE. My entire family was in a taxi that was conveying us from Dubai to Abu Dhabi for a final day of rest before returning to Nigeria. Once again the driver was falling asleep. My husband and I immediately came up with a plan to engage him in a conversation in order to keep him awake. It worked. He told us a lot including the fact that he was in the last four of his twelve hour shift and he was getting really tired. He dropped us safely at the hotel. We could only hope his return leg was safely completed.

I wonder how many lives have been lost in road accidents as a result of driver fatigue. I’m glad I’m not part of that statistic. This is one good lesson to keep in mind and to share with our loved ones.

Stay Safe!

Picture Credit: www.cdc.gov