Wednesday, January 19, 2011

133 Years

 133 years.

That’s how long, combined, me and a few of my friends have been driving.

However, in the last 6 months each and every one of us has had a serious traffic incident. By serious I mean any incident that resulted in the car being written off or having to be in the garage for more than a month.
By my count, 4 of us have written off our cars, and there have been a total of 15 separate incidents in the 6 month period between June and December 2010. No fatalities but one serious injury.

What could be behind this?

Well, in my case and one of other the three other write offs, Alcohol was involved.

I had a few beers the night I wrote off my car, no happy-hour , shot downing binge drinking, just a couple of cold ones during  the live performance I was watching that night, 2 beers in a period of about  4½ hours.  I remember exactly how many I had because they were Shs. 275/= each.

One beer is enough to impair your reflexes just a tiny little bit, when shit hits the fan, every little bit counts.
Had I come round that bend and found that stationary vehicle while I was completely sober then maybe I would have turned the steering wheel a few inches less, or hit the brakes with a little more force, or turned to the right instead of the left, or used the handbrake, or...

The possibilities are endless. All I can do is thank the Lord that my passenger and I escaped unhurt.
I will not speak for the other chap who had his impromptu evening nap rudely interrupted by the Nyayo Stadium Roundabout and wrote off his car.

People, don’t drink and drive, it’s never worth it.

With the exception of a tyre burst, the rest of the accidents were caused by my friend’s reactions to the actions of another motorist.

One guy was on Ngong Road, the car ahead indicated right, slowed down and turned to the right, my pal accelerated to pass on the left, the dude then changes his mind and turns back onto the road straight into my pal.
One three car pile-up with my pal sandwiched in the middle on Waiyaki Way caused by a guy who suddenly stopped to buy a newspaper.
One write-off caused by rolling twice after swerving off the road to avoid a couple of guys racing down the Bomas drift.
One guy who was sandwiched between the Lorry he was overtaking and the guy who was trying to overtake him as he overtook the Lorry. The overlapping idiot suddenly realised there was no more road and swerved back, into my pal, who then hit the lorry.

One head on collision on the Nairobi-Naivasha highway, details of which are hazy because the guy can’t (or won’t) remember. Eyewitness accounts, however, state that he was overtaking someone who decided to accelerate, leaving him no option but to face the business end of an 18-Wheeler.

With the exception of me and my pal Mr. Nyayo Roundabout, the accidents were caused purely by third parties who quite frankly, based on their actions, should not have been on the road.

The problem is that our system doesn’t teach people how to drive, it teaches them to pass the driving test, a test which was designed for an older generation of vehicles on a different set of roads.

With the cost of credit going down and the public transport sector in a mess, more and more people are buying cars, but with the driving test as it is, we are actually putting these new drivers and the  people around them  in danger by allowing them to drive without proper knowledge of how to operate a motor vehicle.
All the experience in the world will not stop you from having an accident with some chap on the road who has no idea what he’s doing.

Insurance premiums are at an all time high and with superhighways popping up all over, I think it’s time we took a serious look at how we train people who drive.

I must go through a certain number of hours of training each year to do what I do for a living, “Continuous Professional Development” they call it, it should be the same for drivers of all PSVs.
In fact, everyone who drives should get trained and tested on a regular basis, perhaps every 3 years, drunk-driving campaigns should be stepped up, done all year round not just around the holidays, even the licence itself, that piece of cardboard in our paperless world should be changed.

Too many people die or get maimed for life on our roads every day, they don’t need to. Something needs to change.

1 comment:

Eric said...

I was mulling over what I'd do if i were in charge of Internal Security....get a unit of instant punishment dispensing traffic cops. They will be walking with nyahunyoz and dispensing on the spot lashes to the mad drivers we have on our roads..especially overlapping idiots.
One thing I agree with is that majority of accidents are caused by those people who stop suddenly without any reason the guy who was buying newspapers, switch lanes on a whim regardless of their speed (forcing you to either break hard or swerve to avoid them on a highway)...I was in a pile up as a result of such a manouver once


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