Thursday January 24 2013

Safety tips : Is your car safely parked?

By Mustafa Ziraba

Think before you park. Obviously, if you park where it is illegal, you will have problems, but careless parking even where it is legal can cause difficulties for you and others. In fact, if your parking causes an obstruction, you may return to find your car has been dented, scratched or clamped.When choosing a parking place you should consider whether it is legal to park there, safe, secure and big enough.

Is it legal?
In Uganda, legality of parking is a bit of a grey area, specifically in Kampala public spaces. Anyone can park anywhere unless of course you shall clearly obstruct the flow of traffic. Nevertheless it is always good to look out for spaces that have legal parking. Inquiring from the multiplex staff goes a long way in finding out the legality of that parking spot.

Is it safe?
Parking safely is mainly common sense and boils down to whether others will be able to see your car and see round it. That means you don’t park on or near blind bends, remembering that if you do you may force drivers of slower, larger cars to put themselves and others at risk by passing your car on the wrong side of the road.

You also may not give others enough time to avoid your car once they have seen it. If you park within 10 metres of a junction, you restrict the view of drivers coming out of the junction and may make it impossible for drivers of large cars to turn in. Parking opposite a junction also makes it harder for turning cars.

In these cases, if your car is restricting a turn, or forcing large cars to weave awkwardly, there is a good chance it will get damaged. Remember make an effort not to park in front of an obstruction, which is, facing a wall. I see this quite a lot at Garden City. Granted, it might be time consuming to park the right way but you have better manoeuvrability when moving out and in case of an emergency, it is easier to drive out.

Is it secure?

Security is important, especially in Kampala. I cannot confirm but there is probably a team of goons, for lack of a better word, who wake up in the morning waiting for their next score. Side mirrors, indicators, and outright breaking and entering of your car are some of the unfortunate happenings.

Look for lighting at night and always see if someone shall watch your car. Thieves love people who park in areas where people can overlook them at work.

Is it big enough?

Naturally, the space needs to be long and wide enough for your car, but look around it, too. You need to be able to open the doors enough to get out and there must be enough space around the car for pedestrians to get past without banging into it.

Have you seen people whose front number plates are bent? If you park near a large car make sure you leave enough space for them to get out, not least because if the driver gets it wrong your car is likely to come off worse.