Friday, February 24, 2012

Learning How to Drive...Again

Since the age of 15, I've been behind the wheel of a car.  Whether it was my mom's Chrysler Town & Country, the Dodge Dakota in high school, the Honda Accord/Subaru Outback in college, or the BMW 323 recently, they've always been on US roads and with an automatic transmission.  Time to flip everything upside down.

Introducing the chariots:

First, we have the workhorse: 2011 Kia 2700 double cabin.  It's nicely equipped and does a lot of the heavy lifting.  We mainly use it to haul water and construction materials around the airfield.

Second, we have the cruiser: 2005 Mitsubishi Pajero (third generation).  We got it used for a great deal.  Despite not having a radio or great air conditioning, the more powerful and functional SUV makes it the top choice when going into the city.

Over the past few weeks, I've been tossed in both of these guys and taught how to not only drive a manual, but how to drive in Ghana.  Let me show you what I mean.  In the US, the roads are actually paved, the drivers behave themselves (for the most part), and the pedestrians are taught from a young age that cars will not hesitate to run you over.

In Ghana, the roads are mostly dirt (although there are some decent paved ones around where we live), most of the drivers don't have licenses, the ones that do take the rules of the road more as suggestions if convenient (see right side of photo), and the pedestrians would prefer to stand in front of your car so they can sell you something.

I don't care who you are or how good of a driver you are in the US.  This place is different.  It takes the idea of defensive driving to a whole new level.  Motorcycles will drive through cars at a stop light at 40km/h and cars will over take you when there is absolutely no room to overtake and just run the other car off the road (especially if you're a big vehicle).  The rules are merely suggestions and people who can survive a crash if they get one own the road.  It's all comes down to how much of a hurry you're in, how big your car is, and if you feel like playing chicken that day.

I will say this's pretty fun driving a manual.  I'm looking forward to owning a car that can make use of it (i.e., not a work truck or heavy SUV).  Stay tuned for more bloggage soon!


  1. What a great contrast in "cultural driving". Pretty cool Ben. I will say if you have to learn how to drive a manual, those are great vehicles for the training.
    But on the road just keep the score at:
    Ben 0 Pedestrian 0
    Love you Ben….Dad

    PS trying to make it back from Germany, stuck in DTW...take care hun...

  2. Yeah, the pedestrians tend to get mad at you if you hit them. 0-0 it shall remain.

    Sorry to hear you are stuck in Germany. Hopefully, Delta will get you back home soon. Much love.

  3. Yeah, compared to smooth concrete roads in the US, the dirt road there is very challenging. Add to that the fact that you’re driving a manual car makes the task all the more challenging. These make a big difference in terms of how one drives, not to mention the car mileage. Road conditions set our alertness level and driving behavior. Drive safely!


  4. Aside from learning how to drive both manual and automatic cars, it’s also good to be prepared about the different road types that you will encounter. The key to driving safely is staying alert and focus. Relax and don’t panic while on the road.

    -Marvis Carswell