Safe Driving: The dos and don’ts on road

Thursday January 16 2020

Blocking a zebra crossing from use is illegal

Blocking a zebra crossing from use is illegal and should be avoided. Photo by Edgar R. Batte 

By Roland D. Nasasira

One of the things that irk Stuart Oramire, a motorist, is when another motorist turns to a different direction when they were in a totally opposite lane. For instance, there are three lanes as you drive up the hill from Kira Road towards Bukoto, all Kampala suburbs.

The lane for vehicles that take the Bukoto to Kisaasi Road is on the extreme left while the middle and extreme right lanes are meant for motorists driving to Ntinda.

“When traffic lights signal green (go), some motorists in the extreme right will struggle and indicate to take the Bukoto to Kisaasi Road. This is an inconvenience to other motorists who keep their lanes and is a sign of being absent minded on the road,” Oramire says.

Oramire’s observation is just one of the many ways you could be misusing the road unknowingly. He believes that by driving in the right lane, you avoid unnecessary traffic arguments that at times lead to accidents.

Parking at zebra crossings
Lately, every motorist drives as if they are in a hurry and have no respect for zebra crossings. Even when pedestrians are crossing the road, some motorists will refuse to slow down or stop. However, zebra crossings must be left visible.

“Even if there is traffic jam, it is a traffic offence to block a zebra crossing from use. When you block a zebra crossing, it means you will have stopped pedestrians from crossing the road and they may resort to crossing at ungazetted points that are a threat to their lives. When you see a pedestrian with intentions of crossing at a zebra crossing, stop,” says Charles Ssebambulidde, the spokesperson of the Traffic Directorate.

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Under the express penalty scheme, parking or blocking a zebra crossing from public use earns you a penalty or fine of Shs200,000.

Stopping in the middle of the road
The tendency to stop in the middle of the road is mainly exhibited by motorists who stop to carry other passengers. This, according to Ssebambulidde, is, under traffic rules, regarded as inconsiderate use of the road and vehicle. It is also recklessness where you obstruct other road users from viewing the road.

“If you stop in the middle of the road and are caught by a traffic officer, they are empowered to determine the fine to charge you in accordance with the law,” Ssebambulidde cautions.

Turning at road islands
Technically, a road island is one that is positioned in the middle of the oncoming and outgoing traffic lanes. They are part of the road design and are created if there are a number of roads that connect to and from the main road, but also separate oncoming from outgoing traffic.

For instance, there is an island on Jinja Road meant for vehicles coming from Industrial Area going to Kololo via Archer Road. The same island serves motorists from Archer Road and are driving towards Industrial area joining Old Port Bell Road.

Along Lugogo bypass, there are road islands located near Nanjing Hotel to allow motorists from Naguru driving to Kololo, Kamwokya or Bukoto and another island for motorists from Kololo driving to Naguru, Bukoto and Kamwokya, among others. However, the usage of all these and many more islands is dependent on how and where you turn.

“If you intend to turn at an island, you must be driving on the extreme right side of the island regardless of whether your vehicle is a left or right hand drive. If there are many motorists with intentions to turn at the island, you must all be behind one another until the leading vehicle has joined the oncoming traffic lane,” Ssebambulidde advises.

He cautions: “It is wrong if you make a second turning lane at the end of the island because you will have blocked the motorist who could have stayed in the extreme right lane waiting for their chance to join oncoming traffic lane. Once caught, you will be issued with a penalty ticket for reckless driving.”

Blocking moving traffic
According to Brian Katungi, a motorist, sometimes traffic jam is caused by poor driving etiquette, especially at junctions. He observes that there are times when a motorist from a feeder road deliberately forces their way into the main road lane that has been held by traffic jam and they end up blocking the opposite moving lane.

“It is all about being patient or flashing friendly headlights at the motorist in the lane you intend to join before cutting off traffic flow in the moving lane,” Katungi advises.

You should not be quick to apportion blame to authorities such as traffic police for holding certain lanes for long and you revenge by blocking the moving lane.

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