5 Sign Languages you must know to survive driving in Nigeria


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Driving in Nigeria requires you to know about some interesting sign languages. Check here to see the top 5 Sign Languages every driver in Nigeria must know!

One of the most beautiful things I experience from time to time is seeing physically challenged deaf & dumb people communicate with each other and also communicating with able humans. I was shocked to find out that the deaf & dumb people have a highly effective standard sign language that anybody can learn and it involves just using hands and body movements. Now, what usually thrills me most when driving on Nigerian roads is the incredible ways that drivers have mastered some particular set of sign languages for communicating effectively just like the deaf & dumb folks. Amazing isn't it? This is the reason why this article is particularly prepared to reveal the top 5 sign languages every driver in Nigeria must know to survive in our typical everyday traffic.


Sign Languages are not easy to learn 

Believe it or not, it is not even just a Nigerian "thing" alone; Yes, in the general world of driving cars, there are certain sign languages that even most drivers in Nigeria today don't know about because they were probably not taught in driving school. Oh, actually about 60% of new drivers in Nigeria don't even bother going to driving schools anymore. So, they just learn the basics of driving a car on the road and move on with life. Lol. But, all that is about to change with YOU when you finish reading this article alone.

How do sign languages work for drivers on the road? 

One of the most distracting things for drivers on the road would be verbally communicating with other drivers/road users. For example, you can't be verbally telling oncoming drivers to stop for you to drive across a T-Junction. You have to send out a signal.


Using signals is an integral part of driving, it's why we need to learn 

Do you know how short the reaction time of a driver is on the road? Before you say "HEY!" another car would have run into you from behind. So, to bridge this communication gap, there are some features in your car that you are meant to use in communicating with other drivers that understand this aspect of driving.

What are the top 5 sign languages when driving?

1. Flashing your headlights 

Flashing headlights is one signal almost everyone knows about but it is one driving practice that most drivers are always doing wrongly. Let's break it down into three aspects of road signal that would make this easier for you.

A. Using headlights to give way

When you need another driver to give you way on the road, all you have to do is flash your headlights at him/her multiple times then wait for a feedback signal from the driver. The driver must switch on his/her lights at you to signal that you have been given a Way to pass. 


Let us normalize flashing headlights as a signal

If the driver flashes back at you, it means you should not pass and if the driver doesn't respond with headlights, it means your signal was missed. Remember, you are only free to pass when the driver switches on his/her full beam headlights back at you. 

B. Using headlights to warn other road users

When you are driving on a two carriageway and you notice that cars passing on the other lane are flashing at you three times, it means there's a danger lying ahead on the road and you are just being warned about this. 


Always take notice when many cars passing you are flashing their lights 

At this point, you have to reduce your speed and proceed with optimal caution. It might be that there's an accident ahead or a really bad spot that would ruin your car if you don't slow down.

C. Using flashlight to flag drivers down or ask for a way ahead

If you are driving on the highway and there's a car behind you flashing you multiple times, it means you are driving too slow and you need to give way for his/her to
pass. This is common in emergencies. Some drivers drive very slow on the highway while others need to rush down somewhere. A simple flash will mean 'please give me Way'.


Once you see a car flashing in your rearview mirror like this, you need to give way 

Also, when you are driving in a convoy with another car(s), a flashing car behind is just to call your attention to new development. Many drivers drive in convoys and don't communicate at all with other drivers. Flashing headlights is a simple way to organize passing information within a convoy of cars.  

2. Hand signal to reduce speed

A lot of times, drivers tend to be speeding past their proposed diversions off major roads and only an emergency braking would be the saviour from this. The need to brake urgently can easily be accompanied by a 'hand out of the car facing down' signal to let the oncoming driver know that there would be an abrupt change in speed.


All the hand signals you need to know 

In most cases, it is safer to miss this turning and just re-route especially when you are driving on a fast lane but that doesn't mean people won't still use this signal for you on the road. Beware!

3. Sweeper opening door in a convoy 

When you see cars moving in a convoy, especially a VIP convoy with security details attached. You should always expect that there is a sweeper car, whose responsibility is to clear the road for the convoy. Once a sweeper's car parks in a way that blocks other oncoming cars and the sweeper's car door are opened, it means no car can move until the convoy is done moving ahead.


Do not play with VIP escorts on Nigerian roads

People try to even overtake VIP convoys in Nigeria and drastic punishments are enforced by these uniform men in the convoy. I saw a Nigerian Army officer destroy the side mirror and windshield of a Honda Baby Boy because the driver tried to overtake the convoy. 

4. Empty container on a car 

The origin of this practice can be traced to Argentina. When you see any car parked by the roadside with an empty plastic container like a Jerry Can, water bottle or an engine oil container, it means the car is a used car that has been put up for sale. 


Can you see the yellow container?

Not every car seller in Nigeria has the patience to be sticking the "For Sale" sign on cars and also, this container could just easily be taken off the car to avoid the awkwardness of driving around a car that has a "For Sale" sign attached to it. 

5. A car with leaves on them 

When you see a car with leaves all over them, it means two things. It is either the car is in a convoy of cars escorting a corpse to the burial location or the car is signifying to the public that the driver and passengers mean peace as they are driving through a group of people protesting for a cause. The latter is common during protests on public roads by crowds. You need to signify that you are with the crowd before you drive through unless they could destroy your car out of anger. Doesn't matter if you are one of the richest celebrities in Nigeria, at that point, you must show a sign of peace. The former is common amongst people that are into the transporting business. Once a colleague dies, they put leaves on their cars while forming a convoy that will lead to the house or point of burial of the deceased.


So, we just simply gave you some of the top-secret driving tips for surviving on Nigerian roads. At this point, we hope you learnt a lot from it and you are now fully aware of the top 5 Sign Languages you must know to survive driving in Nigeria. Don't forget to always check back here on our website for highly informative content like this every day. 

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Crank - the head of content for 234DRIVE is a mechanic/car enthusiast/car vlogger that writes and creates relatable motoring experiences. Whenever he lays his hands on any car, he reviews them in depth. He calls himself the 'Educative Car Guy'.

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