Rebecca Nansamba bought her first car, a Toyota Raum in May. As a first time motorist, one of the ways she stays safe on the road is by not driving too close to motorists ahead of her. She says that when she was at driving school, her instructor told her that if you can not see the rear tyres of the vehicle ahead of you, then you are too close.
“There are motorists who overtake even when the road is narrow and rejoin my lane when they realise that there is an oncoming vehicle. I always leave some between me and the vehicle ahead of me just to be safe. My worry is that other drivers might scratch my car or break my headlamps,” Nansamba says.
As a first time motorist, like Nansamba, it is important that you drive with key safety tips in mind.
On the road, you are bound to find all kinds of motorists. If you do not find those who do not know how to drive and stay in their lane, you will find those who are impatient and will hoot at you even when it is unnecessary.
Drive at a steady speed
While on the road, you will see speeding motorists. This might tempt you to follow suit but don’t. Drive at a speed that is manageable for you.
“Choosing to follow speeding motorists, is as good as digging your own grave. Drive at a speed that will allow you to control your car without getting involved in a crash incase of an unexpected occurences. Driving at high speed comes gradually with some experience,” says Anthony Katabazi, who has been driving for 15 years.
Be prepared for distractions
While you drive, there will be a number of distractions such as as music, phone calls or even just engaging conversation from passengers. For some motorists, even a skimpily dressed woman. Such distractions can cause you to make mistakes such as driving into a ditch, ramming into other vehicles or knocking pedestrians.
“If you do not expect urgent or important phone calls or messages, put your phone in silent mode until you get to your destination. Every second spent looking at your phone puts your life and that of other road users at risk,” Katabazi points out.
Pay attention to road signs
Different sections of the road have different road signs. They are mostly positioned on the left hand side of the road. Charles Ssebambulidde, the spokesperson of the traffic directorate cautions that those you must read and respect are the type that require you to drive within prescribed speed limits as well as those that alert you of corners or bends ahead.
“If you read a sign post that allows you to drive at 80km/hour, it does not mean that you should drive at 80km/hour. It should be at a speed that does not exceed 80km/hour. The maximum speed for all built up areas is 50km/hour. Failure to respect speed limit signs is a traffic offence,” Ssebambulidde says.
Markings on the road surface are also considered to be road signs. These are mostly lines that guide you on which side or lane of the road you should drive.
Avoid the highway
Unlike congested areas with a lot of traffic, Francis Barigye, a motorist opines that you can only drive on a highway after gaining a certain level of confidence. According to him, any mistake on a highway is dangerous because of the high speed at which other motorists drive.
“Successfully driving on a highway comes after you have mastered the art of driving in places with heavy traffic. You can carelessly change a lane in an urban area without indicating but the same mistake might cost you your life on a highway. Take one step at a time before graduating to highways,” Barigye cautions.
Understand your car
Sulaiman Kilimani, a mechanic at Kisekka Market advises that it is equally important to understand the safety features such as seatbelts and braking system your car has. While driving, different cars take different durations to come to a stop from the moment of stepping on the brake pedal. For example, Mercedes Benz brands have a more efficient braking system compared to brands such as Isuzu and Toyota. It is also important to understand where car features such as indicator knobs are so you can use them when you intend to turn off the road.
You can as well drive along with a more experienced driver during your first week or every time you get on the road until you are confident enough to drive alone. They will help you understand road basics such as dealing with commuter taxi drivers who just stop anywhere at any time without indicating.