There is nothing more fulfilling than a driver who understands his car. It delivers a peace of mind and inner satisfaction.
According to Rtd Maj George Mutumba, who is now a road safety consultant, if you “know your vehicle, it will know you” and you will avoid a lot of inconveniences including accidents.
“Uganda needs you alive not dead. Danger plies on the road. Honour traffic laws and save lives. Death follows careless road users like their shadows,” Mutumba said at a driver refresher training course in Bugolobi, Kampala.
Mutumba’s advice might sound like a cliché or the usual punch lines from a traffic officer but it is synonymous with Uganda’s traffic incidents that have resulted in a number of deaths.
Uganda, according to the World Health Organisation, ranks high on the African continent among countries that have the highest rate of road accidents.
For instance, according to the 2013 Global Status Report on Road Safety, more than 2,954 people died as a result of accidents in 2010.
This according to Mutumba, who worked with police for 34 years, 18 of which were at the vehicle inspection unit, presents the larger challenges that government must tackle head-on by providing drivers with continuous knowledge about cars.
“I can operate trucks, buses, forklifts, you name it. I prepared myself for the future. I acquired my first driving permit in 1958,” he says and boosts that he has taken it upon himself to understand his cars with utmost importance.
Such is the importance that Mutumba attaches to cars and he believes that it is the work of the driver to protect lives and not the car because “the vehicle operates on the driver’s command”.
According to the Ministry of Health, government spends close to Shs1.8 trillion to respond to accident-related victims annually, which is close to 3 per cent of Uganda’s GDP.
Available data also indicates that more than 60 per cent of Mulago Hospitals’ budget is spent on treating accident-related victims.
Such fatalities are an ugly statistics which, according to Mutumba, present a challenge because many drivers tend to be irresponsible or ignorant of traffic guidelines, which emphasises the need for refresher training.
“When you are driving 40 or 60 passengers, their lives are your responsibility. You should drive smoothly, be steady and be sure of what you are doing,” he says.
Refresher training, according to David Otti, the general manager of Victoria Motors, is a key aspect that drivers must take as something serious.
“No matter how long one has driven, refresher training reminds you of what you are supposed to do with the car,” he says.
Beyond reminding you, he says, training helps you to understand the car and its systems which allow you the opportunity to be in charge.
A good driver, Mutumba says, must be focused, observant, able to assess the situation as well as being a fast decision maker.
“Be careful, the road is not yours alone,” Mutumba said at the training that targeted participants from government entities and private companies, some whom have driven for more than 35 years.
According to George Mutumba, a driver must possess self-restrain even when they get the urge to rush to make certain accomplishments.
He says drivers must have a mind that has speed bump even where a road they are driving on does not possess any.
“On the road it is a matter of life and death. You have nothing to lose by avoiding accidents. Roads never die but you die on them. Do not blame the car when you are the problem for not making routine maintenance,” he says.
A good driver, Mutumba says, should have first aid knowledge such that in case someone is injured they are able to administer it.
Things such as first aid were part of the refresher training that is conducted by senior mechanics and traffic consultants drawn from government and the private sector.
Why you should understand your car:
Apart from learning how to drive, understanding you cars is a invaluable asset that will not only save you from a number eventualities but will deliver satisfaction.