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King of the road: Safe Driver of the Year 2023

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Every year, we celebrate one member of the Otto family with the safest driving record. This involves many aspects of how each driver handles their PCO car, from gentle braking through to always paying attention to the road ahead. 

The first winner of this new prize is Yusuf Omar Farah, who reveals below how regular travel helped him succeed.

Congratulations on the award. How does it make you feel? 

I really appreciate that Otto Car looks at which drivers use the roads responsibly and follow the rules. I’m grateful for this recognition – it means more than the money to me. Absolutely. 

Why do you think that you have won this year? 

I always do things in a calm way and I often give my right-of-way to others. If there is an accident, I know this will have an impact on me even if it was not my fault. 

What do you mean by that? 

Whether I hit a car or it hits me, this creates a problem that simply doesn’t need to exist. You have to spend time to fix things – and I know that not working will cost me more money than a slight delay on the road.

Are you saying that being a good driver is more about attitude than personal skills?

Exactly that. Many times I let another driver go ahead of me when I did not need to. Who is right or wrong doesn’t matter in those moments. I avoid conflict completely because there are no winners.  

Have you always had this calm approach to driving?  

When I started, I used to get a little irritated but I’m not in that mood anymore. I was recently at a roundabout when someone forced me to brake and said some mean words because I beeped. I just smiled to myself. 

How long have you been an Uber driver? 

I got the PCO licence eight years ago and used it for almost five. I’ve been with Otto Car for around two years.  

What were you doing before you had this career? 

I worked as an assistant in a mental hospital called the John Howard Centre in Hackney. My role was to help the patients who came from prison and rehabilitate them to go back to their community. 

That sounds like a challenging job? 

Yes. Many times the patients would become angry and hit people, often because there was no medication in their system. I never had problems as I always talked to them in a calm way. 

Is that your natural personality or have you learned this approach? 

I’ve always been like this. However, I’ve also lived in eight countries and so my vision of how to handle people has grown over the years.

That sounds like a lot of moving around. 

I’m originally from Somalia and then I went to Kenya and Malawi. More recently, I lived in South Africa – and all of these experiences have helped me to learn how to handle problems and stay safe.   

How does driving in London compare to big cities in those countries? 

I would say London is the hardest city to drive. These other cities have larger roads and more space. Here, there are more cars and cyclists, all using the same narrow streets.   

Where is the best place to try Somalian food in London? 

I like the Brother’s restaurant in Tottenham. The food I love most in London is Afghani, especially Kabuli pilau. It’s rice and meat cooked without water. The Afghan Grill in Bethnal Green where I live is amazing. 

What advice would you give to new PCO drivers? 

Try to see a situation from the other person’s point-of-view, whether it’s a driver or a rider. I always think it’s better for people to think I’m a fool than to create trouble or have to put out my excuses later.

Speaking of viewpoints, did you know the cameras in your car show you are never distracted while driving?  

That’s great. I like having these in my car because I know they will save me from false claims. There was a time that a rider said I was not the one driving the car but it was me. 

Do you have a message for PCO drivers who are nervous about dash cams? 

Remember these are only there to protect you, the car you are driving – and the riders. It’s a benefit for everyone and if you do things in the right way, there is nothing to worry about. 

Our team of instructors is there to help every PCO driver be safer. What’s your top tip? 

I cannot say that I’m a special driver but I am patient – and that helps a lot. I think this safety award is a great way of encouraging us all to become better drivers and I value this vote of confidence.

Do you have any final thoughts? 

Only to say thank you once again. I have always had a very good experience with Otto Car. You are the best. 

Every Otto Car comes with dashcams and most have smart telematics too. The good news is that all London PCO drivers can be part of our dashcam scheme no matter who provides the car. It’s an easy way to join the family. 

Want to learn more?

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