The four-day Easter holiday is one of the annual festivities where a good number of motorists travel to spend time with their loved ones. However, as you drive upcountry, it is important that you keep and observe a number of road safety tips to and from your destination.
Eldard Mugabe is one of the motorists who drives upcountry for Easter festivities. Much as he is always anxious to reach Rukungiri within a short time, he is always mindful that he drives at a speed safe enough for his family.
“I do not drive above 100km/hour. I start my journey early and rest in Masaka for about 30 minutes. I resume with the journey and rest again in Mbarara,” Mugabe says.
Observe speed limits
Charles Ssebambulidde, the spokesperson of the Traffic Directorate of the Uganda Police, notes that travelling upcountry for festive seasons such as Easter comes with urban-rural excitement. The excitement at times makes you forget that you have to obey road rules and end up breaking the law.
“For every private vehicle, the acceptable maximum driving speed is 100km/hour and the acceptable maximum driving speed for Public Service Vehicles (PSV) and Please Members Only (PMO) vehicles is 80km/hour,” Ssebambulidde clarifies.
“If you drive above the recommended speed and you are caught by the law, you will be served a penalty receipt of Shs200,000, which must be paid immediately. If you do not oblige, the other option is taking you to prison,” he cautions.
Start your journey early
Ronald Amanyire, the secretary National Road Safety Council of the Ministry of works agrees with Ssebambulidde, warning that there is no need for you to drive at breakneck speed simply because you want to reach your destination early.
“When you start your journey early, you drive at a manageable speed. It also allows you time to make the right decisions on the road compared to when you are driving fast. While speeding, your chances of causing accidents also become high,” Amanyire advises.
Plan your journey
Some distances such as the one from Kampala to Arua in West Nile or even Mbarara are too long that the urge of not making a stopover may sometimes cross your mind. However, Paul Kwamusi, a road safety consultant with Integrated Transport Systems, says whether the journey is too long or short, it is recommended to plan. This involves mapping out places where you are to make stopovers to rest, stretch your body and have a light snack.
“A journey friend is important because it prevents you from developing fatigue behind the steering wheel and burning out before reaching your destination,” Kwamusi says.
Do not drink and drive
Driving under the influence of alcohol regardless of whether you are in the car alone or with other passengers is not allowed. When an accident happens, it will take the life of the driver who was drunk and spare that of passengers who were sober.
“Alcohol interferes with your body system and affects your reasoning and judgement on the road. To be safe, it is advisable not to drink alcohol at all even if it is on the day before you drive,” Amanyire advises.
Avoid driving at night
While some motorists reason that there are few cars on the road at night compared to the day, which perhaps allows them to drive at a speed they wish, Ssebambulidde urges driving with a lot of cautiousness if you must drive at night. This is because heavy loaded trucks sometimes break down on the road and either park by the roadside in dangerous spots such as corners or sometimes in the middle of the road.
“By the time you remember to reduce your speed at night, you will have already rammed into a stationary truck. If you are to drive in the night, be very attentive because a parked truck will limit your vision,” Ssebambulidde advises.
Respect road signs
Ssebambulidde notes that some of the most lifesaving road signs you must look out for are those that require you to drive within certain speed limits. For example, if a road sign is written with a 50 kilometre mark, with a black line running from one edge of the sign post to another, it means that you should not drive above 50 kilometres.
It could be alerting you that you are approaching a place with many corners, a trading centre, school zone where the road is in constant use by pedestrians or even a game park where the driving speed must be low to avoid knocking pedestrians, animals or skidding off the road. With these tips and many others in mind, it is possible to have an accident-free Easter holiday provided you keep them at your fingertips.
Use of climbing lanes
Dr Steven Kasiima, the director of Traffic and Road Safety Directorate interjects, says on highways, when you reach an area with climbing lanes, there will be a visible signpost reading, “Start of climbing lane,” to alert you. These are purposely meant for slow moving trucks or cars and those overtaking.
“On climbing lanes, if you are slow, you must be driving in the extreme left lane and leave the one in the middle for fast moving vehicles to overtake. After you have overtaken from the middle lane, you should also move to the extreme left lane to give way to motorists who want to overtake,” Kasiima explains, adding that it is illegal for motorists on the oncoming direction to use climbing lanes yet they are going downhill.