I may not know about other countries but it is only in Uganda is where one walks to the car bond, buys a car and gets some one to train them for just a few days before they hit the road by themselves.
Therefore, such people miss the simplest of driving guidelines and will in most cases become a disaster on the road.
According to Charles Mukiibi, a driving instructor with Kennedy Driving School in Entebbe, a car has several signalling devices such as indicators, brake lights and hazard warning lights, among others.
These, he says, are used by the driver to communicate to other road users what they intend to do.
“They help drivers give advance warning to other road users that you intend to perform a particular maneuver,” he says.
Giving appropriate signals at the correct time and place is a safety requirement that every driver must have.
“The signals must be given in good time before you start maneuvering and long enough for their meaning to be clear to other road users,” he says.
They are usually amber in colour and can be located at the front, the rear and sometimes on the sides.
These, according to Mukiibi, give other road users advance warning that you are about to turn, overtake or join the road.
“Give other road users plenty of time to react and adapt to your signal. Do not just surprise them,” he says.
Indicators, unless otherwise, will automatically cancel out once the maneuver has been completed.
However, indicators can also be used at night to indicate to oncoming traffic to mark the end of the car.
Hazard warning lights
Many people call them double indicators but they are actually called hazard warning lights.
According to Willy Byaruhanga, an instructor at O&S Driving School, when you turn them on indicators begin to flash.
These, he says, are used to warn other road users of a hazard.
The hazard might be your own car parked at an ungazzeted space or an obstacle on the road. It could even be an accident.
Brake lights signal
When you press the brake pedal, two rear lights are activated to warn drivers behind you to reduce speed.
This, according to Byaruhanga, signals to traffic behind you that you are slowing down so they should also respond.
Brake lights have a bright illumination that gives off a powerful light compared to standard rear lights.
Therefore, you should always pay close attention to differentiate the two. Brake lights can also be used to warn traffic behind when you make a stop, especially in low visibility conditions.
“As a car approaches you from the rear, press your brake pedal to activate the brake light. This will warn the driver of your presence,” says Byaruhanga.
According to Mukiibi, the Highway Code requires that you can flash your headlights to warn another road user of your presence.
“Flashing your headlights is useful in a situation where the horn cannot be heard such as when driving at high speed on a busy motorway,” he says.
However, he says, many people use flash rights to give instructions to other drivers such as requesting for an oncoming driver to give way in case you want to turn.
Many drivers also use headlights to signal to oncoming cars that the road ahead is clear or has traffic encumbrances.
This, according to Mukiibi, should be ignored because there is no guarantee that by the time you reach a particular road section it will be clear as the previous driver left it. “If you were to respond to flashing headlights this way or if you were to flash a driver to tell them the way ahead is clear, on your driving test you would fail the test,” he says.
According to Byaruhanga the use of the horn should be limited to warning other road users, who have failed to notice your presence.
“Avoid aggressively sounding the horn. It is also illegal to use your horn while your car is stationery even as some of these rules don’t apply in Uganda,” he says. While driving, he says, you should never take for granted the signal you because some drivers apply them while intending to mean something else.
“Many signals are poorly used. Be cautious and wait for a secondary sign that the signal is what it is meant for,” he says.
Reverse signal lights
When a car is engaged into reverse mode either one or two yellowish lights are activated at the rear end of the car.
This therefore notifies immediate drivers or passenger to stop and wait for the next action the driver will take.
According to Byaruhanga most of the people including the drivers themselves don’t take the reverse lights serious.
Therefore, it has no harm for someone to stand behind the car as the driver reverse to join the road.
These give off a low-beam illumination and are usually switched on while the car is parked, especially along the road or busy areas of traffic.
However, parking lights can also aid visibility or alert oncoming traffic of your presence on the road.
Car automatic lighting system
The automatic headlamps are activated through a photoelectric sensor which is embedded into the instrument panel. The sensitivity of the sensor is either set by the manufacturer or the driver and it allows lights to switch on whenever necessary.
The lights will switch off after five or so minutes after the engine has been turned off. The driver has the ability to bypass the functions of the automatic headlamps by operating the light switch or some other device in the car.
Automatic Light Control
It is a standard feature for General Motor cars manufactured between 1999 and 2004. The automatic light control sensor automatically turns on lights whenever it deems it necessary, especially in low light conditions or during darkness. The system will activate the lights when the car is driven in an enclosure, such as a parking garage with an off delay of about 20 seconds.
However, the system can be bypassed by engaging the parking brake before starting the engine. The driver can also turn off by switch from “auto” to “headlamps” and back to “auto” again.
This is mostly used by Ford cars. The system is fitted with a photocell to activate the automatic headlamps whenever the conditions warrant.
It is one of the earliest forms of automatic headlamp that has been featuring on some cars since 1964.
The Twilight Sentinel uses an amplifier and a single photocell to gauge the light intensity before switching the lights on. The driver has an option of setting the length for headlamp to delay switch on or switch off delay.