Highway driving is sometimes the most enjoyable driving but needs good experience. Don’t attempt to drive just because you are a driver. We insist that a good driver is one who takes every reasonable precaution to prevent traffic accidents and one who learns “over time” the driving behaviour of other drivers and pedestrians “in the area of operation.
It is one who remains conscious of the unpredictable and ever changing weather and road condition and observes the mechanical condition of the vehicle he is driving.
A good driver should have reasonable skills in handling the vehicle and above all should not be just a person behind the steering wheel.
In Tanzania, just like in many parts of the world, many drivers are young, mostly below the age of 45. This group is known as the ‘Growing Mature Age’. The main reason why they are dubbed so is that their blood still irritates and sometimes tampers with their concentration on the ability to drive.
Most of the accidents that occur on the highways are contributed by dangerous overtaking, poor judgment, inexperienced driving, speeding, poor knowledge of traffic rules and acts of negligence.
The rules of the road are very clear. That before overtaking you must make sure that no other driver of the vehicle that follows you has began to overtake or the driver of the car that is ahead of you in the same lane has not shown an intention to go past.
Don’t overtake to a lane on which the driver of a given vehicle is about to enter unless the lane is clear far enough ahead so as not to endanger or impede oncoming traffic.
When approaching crest of a hill and if visibility is inadequate on the bend, the driver should not overtake. Sometimes you find a driver overtaking at a hill or a place where a lane refuses him to or at a series of vehicles in front of him, this could cause an accident.
A driver who perceives that another vehicle intends to overtake him should keep to the far left side of the carriageway and refrain from accelerating.
As for a carriageway with at least two lanes reserved for the traffic moving in the direction in which it is proceeding, the driver should make sure he can do so without approaching the vehicle from behind while remaining on the lane they have occupied for the first overtaking maneuver.
The driver not in the lane nearest to the edge of the carriageway to the location of the traffic may change lane in order to prepare to turn right or left or to park.
Where due to the narrowness profile or condition of the carriageway, in addition to the density or oncoming traffic, a driver of a vehicle which is slow or which is required to observe a certain speed limit cannot be easily and safely overtaken. The driver should slow down and if necessary pull aside as soon as possible in order to allow the driver of a following vehicle to overtake.
A driver of any other vehicle should slow down and where necessary stop to give way to a public motor vehicle with passengers priority to move off from a passenger vehicles’ stop.
No drive of a motor vehicle shall turn or reverse a motor vehicle on a motorway or on way entry to an exit ramp.
It is dangerous to apply brakes suddenly unless it is necessary to do so for safety reasons. Extra care should be taken on approaching an intersection so as to allow the driver of another motor vehicle to pass safely.
It is safe for the driver of a vehicle moving behind another to keep a sufficient distance so as to avoid collusion in case the vehicle in front suddenly slows down or stops.
For any cause beyond control no person shall keep a vehicle standing or parking on a carriageway on a PEDE station crossing level or close to the crest of a hill or bends.
A driver who intends to overtake another vehicle which has stopped immediately before a pedestrians crossing on a carriageway should stop at the pedestrians crossing and proceed only after making sure no pedestrian is using or is about to use the crossing.
The driver should stop before a pedestrians crossing which is not regulated by traffic lights or by a police officer.
Every person using the road shall exercise due care and attention and shall be alert and cautious so as not to endanger or obstruct traffic or other road users.
Use of Lights
Most drivers cause accidents during the night because of the misuse of lights. They either don’t know where or in which situations they are supposed to change motor vehicle light behaviours. Just to remind you:
a) Dimmed lights should be used on streets in built up areas with street lighting.
b)To a vehicle driver who is about to overtake another vehicle should prevent dazzle far enough to enable the driver of the other vehicle to proceed safely.
Approach during official motorcades passing
a) Draw the vehicle to a halt at the extreme left of the road.
b) Where the vehicle is stopped in any lane at a controlled intersection remain stationary and only proceed when instructed to do so by means of the hand signal of a police officer or after the motorcade has passed.
c) A driver of a vehicle moving behind another vehicle shall keep a sufficient distance from the other vehicle so as to avoid causing an accident in case the vehicle in front suddenly slows down or stops.
Drunk driving is the most dangerous habit which can take away your life. You may avoid accidents now but so long as you keep on drinking and driving you might face the consequences the day unexpected. Remember that when you drink alcohol you feel fine and great but it builds up foolish confidence and a hopeless courage in driving. Driving attitude, judgment and vision becomes low.
When the minute of accident approaches, you fear nothing but death. If you are lucky next day you will find yourself in hospital – in a hopeless condition most probably with severe injuries. Why should you sacrifice your life because of alcohol and leave your family in misery?
Please avoid driving while drunk. Beware of road accidents, spot areas on the highways.
• David Mfanga is former Dar es Salaam Regional Traffic Commander and can be reached on 0787312815