Driving along: What you must know

Thursday August 29 2019

If you have been parked by the roadside and yo

If you have been parked by the roadside and you are joining the road, it is recommended that you adapt to the driving speed of a particular road especially on a highway. Photo by Rachel Mabala 

By Roland D. Nasasira

Ronald Amanyire, the secretary, National Road Safety Council of the Ministry of Works and Transport defines driving along as the ease with which you fit in to the flow of prevailing road traffic from the onset of starting your vehicle. For you to drive along smoothly, you have to understand a number of factors.

Traffic queues
Unlike highways, traffic queues are the order of the day in urban areas with many vehicles especially at rush hours. What is important to understand is that if every motorist remained in their right lane, there would not be traffic jam.

“If there is a traffic queue ahead of you, have the discipline to join the back of it. Do not try to jump the queue by creating another illegal lane. Other motorists will follow you thinking there is a moving lane before you all get caught up at a point where you will have to rejoin the lane you exited causing unending traffic jam,” Amanyire explains.

Practice defensive driving
Defensive driving simply means that you drive in a way that leaves room for other motorists’ errors.
It does not only involve reading the minds and behaviour of motorists ahead of you but also involves looking out for the unexpected, such as a child chasing a ball or even a fast approaching vehicle from a feeder road.

“If a bus, truck or other vehicle stops ahead of you, be ready for passengers to cross the road from behind or in front of it.
If there is a parked vehicle ahead with someone in it, expect them to open the door and disembark without closing the door and looking behind them for any following vehicle,” observes Charles Ssebambulidde, the spokesperson of the traffic directorate

Adapt to speed
If you have been parked by the roadside and you are joining the road, it is recommended that you adapt to the driving speed of a particular road especially on a highway. This is because highways are characterised by high speed. You should also note that while too much speed kills, being slow may also cause you to get hit by a fast motorist.


Factors affecting driving along
The way you join the road will affect driving along. As you leave your parking slot, use your side and driving mirrors to check if there are other vehicles or motorcyclists driving fast before you can join the road.

If you join the road anyhow, you risk being crashed on the car sides by speeding motorists.

Changing lanes
One of the ways road indiscipline is manifested by motorists is when they change lanes without indicating. Some just change lanes with the perception that the other motorist s in the lane they are joining see them.

Amanyire says the ethical way of changing lanes should be when the motorist in whose lane you are joining gives you a go ahead and flashes headlights at you after they’ve slowed down.

Keep left
Unless you are overtaking, Steven Kasiima, the director traffic and road safety directorate emphasizes that you should remain in the extreme left lane especially when driving along climbing lanes.

“After overtaking the vehicle ahead of you, go back to the extreme left lane and leave the middle lane to create space for faster vehicles to overtake as well. The middle lane is meant for fast moving vehicles,” Kasiima cautions.

Bullying on the road
Bullying on the road is a form of indiscipline especially by truck drivers and people who drive vehicles with sirens especially those owned by high ranking government officials.

Bullying is manifested when trucks or bigger vehicles push smaller vehicles off the road to the extent of leading them into ditches or swamps.

“If you hear a siren from a vehicle driving behind you, use your driving mirror to check them out. Do not panic. You should not be scared by lead cars. If there is no safe place for you to park by the roadside, do not drive into a ditch because you are giving way to the car behind you. Stay on the road until there is a safe place for you to park.

If the siren or lead car knocks you, they will be held responsible for the damages or injuries caused to you or your car,” Amanyire advises.

He adds that driving along is a two way traffic; having space to give way and not having space.
There is no motorist who knocks another car intentionally, because they are driving a very important person, unless they want to kill you, he says.

Road designs
According to the Uganda Road Design Manual Volume of the ministry or works and transport, driving along is also sometimes affected by the design and class of the road.

Roads are classified into national, district and urban roads. National roads are those that connect one border of the country to another while district roads connect sub counties of the district to national roads. These mainly focus on the width of the road, with much focus on the carriage way where vehicles drive from.

For example, along highways such as the Kampala to Masaka highway, the road or carriage way width is seven meters.
This means that the lane for outgoing and incoming traffic is 3.5metres each.

Roads in Kampala especially those constructed by authorities such as Kampala Capital City Authority, are in most cases 2.8metres wide. These are the tarmacked or paved roads in Kampala suburbs such as Rubaga without heavy traffic.

There are also gravel class A district roads that are not yet tarmacked and are in most cases wider than tarmacked roads. Their width is approximately 5.6 metres. Their lanes cannot be seen because of their nature.

Broken down vehicles
If you find a truck that experienced a mechanical problem in the middle of the road especially along highways, it will automatically slow down traffic flow. It means vehicles on the outgoing and oncoming traffic will have to negotiate in the remaining space for continuity.

“Be slow and patient at such moments. If you rush, you will end up causing an accident in an area that has already been narrowed down by a broken down truck and cause heavy traffic jam,” Ssebambulidde cautions.

Drive calmly and help others when it is safe to do so. Do not drive as though you are in a race against other motorists. Do not try to punish other motorists for the mistakes they make. If you obey the rules and drive in a patient and considerate manner, everyone will get to their destination safely.