If we each had a shilling for every driving indiscretion we witness in a week, we would have enough money to single-handedly fix the pothole landmines eating Kampala roads. However, that does not mean that we are flawless and commendable drivers every time we are out on the road. No matter how perfect we like to think we are, we all commit the occasional driving faux pas.
There are several driving etiquette mistakes we see on a daily basis. The next time you find yourself committing one of these vehicular blunders, know that you are being unfair.
No pedestrian enjoys spending time in the middle of the road, dodging cars just to stay alive. And nine times out of 10, these pedestrians are moving as fast as they can. While you may reclaim an extra second or two of your “valuable” time by honking pedestrians off the road, you will look outright unruly. Show society and possibly your passengers that you are better than your peers and give these pedestrians the time and space they need to safely cross the road.
Riding the bumper of the car in front of you will not help you get to where you need to be any sooner, especially if you are stuck in gridlocked traffic. Sure, some of you may not want another driver chipping in or feel that you have the driving skills needed to safely pilot your car with only a remote control sized safety cushion of space, but unless you have the ability to control and defy physics, your driving skills are not up to the task.
I totally understand the desire to stay as close as possible, but take a minute or two and relax. The destination you are frantically trying to get to is not going anywhere, it will be there regardless of whether you drive six inches or two metres behind the car ahead of you.
If you are driving alone on a dark, unlit road, please make sure you stay safe by turning your high beams on. However, if another car is coming at you, or if you are driving on well-lit city roads, turn those high beams off. Keeping your high beams on, and pointed in the eyes of other drivers, is outright dangerous.
Blinding oncoming traffic is a good way to get other drivers to temporarily lose control of their cars and have them collide head-on with you. I understand that you need to show off your cool blue Xenons but while on the road, let your good manners not your Xenons shine and use your high beams only when necessary.
Some people, usually those not at the front of a traffic queue, feel the need to reprimand others for not knowing the traffic light pattern, many times by laying into the horn when the light is still red just before it goes green. Save your fuel and reduce your stress by letting the guy in front of you take the extra half-second to go when the light turns green.
You are the type of person who feels that it is your duty as a responsible citizen to equip your car with the biggest speakers possible so that everyone can get hip to the music you love. Besides, nothing impresses the ladies like a trunk full of bass that puts out enough decibels to drown out a plane on take-off.
Truth is, no one wants to hear you blast your music. No one will fault you on wanting to hear a clear, rich reproduction of your favourite music. Just spend the time and effort on getting a system that makes the music sound good, and make sure it stays inside your car.
One thing that is of great importance in Kampala is to drive defensively and aggressively. There is a difference between being aggressive and simply being rude. Driving defensively and aggressively includes being courteous. For example, if you see someone trying to cross into a lane, let them.
Being aggressive, simply means not letting another driver bully you.
This also goes along with not fighting other drivers. If you are behind a slow car and there is no way around the car just slow down. Do not try to make the driver go faster by honking and flashing lights that will only frustrate you.
Do not let rude drivers get under your skin. If someone cuts in front of you, just let them go and keep your emotions under control.
True, we all want to get to our destinations sooner rather than later. However, all speeding really does is increase your risk of getting into an accident. One of the most important and easiest things you can do to become a better driver is to wear your seatbelt. If you are involved in some type of accident or collision, a seatbelt will save your life.
Finally, the indicators on your car are for more than just decoration. They also let others know if and when you are intending to turn or change lanes.
Not only that, but they let other cars know which direction your car may head, helping them avoid a collision with you. Please use them.