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Melting pot on the highway

When teaching an immigrant to drive, an instructor has to drum a few things into his head. Among them: Driving in reverse doesn’t make it OK to go the wrong way on a one-way street. You can’t pay off the police if an officer finds you’re driving without a license. And just because you’re behind the wheel of a car doesn’t mean pedestrians need to get out of your way.

Those are some of the challenges faced by Isaac Vodi, whose Riteway Driving School in Hyattsville — featured in an article earlier this week in the Washington Post — counts immigrants among its students.

“The world lives here, and sooner or later they drive here,” Vodi, a former cab driver and himself an immigrant from Ghana, said of the D.C. region.

Vodi, who speaks four languages, said his foreign-born students often have to unlearn the aggressive driving practices of their home countries, where the approach to government driving regulation is much more laissez faire.

And he told the Post there is one truth about immigrant drivers, regardless of country of origin: no respect for pedestrians’ right of way.

“They feel they have power and status in a car,” Vodi said.