Owing to the growing number of vehicles in Kigali, it is paramount that motorists and other road users observe discipline. We have reached a time when the concept of ‘peak hours’ is a common phenomenon.
Traffic jams have become a reality in the city almost every morning and evening when people rush to their jobs or homes, not forgetting long queues for public transport at major bus stations.
These developments have, however, brought about complexities on our roads. Motorists not halting at the stop line, honking incessantly even before the signal turns green, not sticking to their lanes, these and other frustrating habits are increasingly becoming common occurrences in our city.
One cannot drive for half an hour or so without noticing a bus driver disregarding road signs, stopping in the middle of the road to pick up passengers, driving on the shoulders of the road, or simply veering into a main road without watching for oncoming vehicles!
Some even disregard zebra crossings perceiving stopping at them as a favour done to a pedestrian. It is not uncommon to see a pedestrian literally running on a zebra crossing to protect dear life from the unconcerned motorists!
Another menace that has slowly crept onto our roads is the danger posed by the increasing ominous motorcycle riders, who behave as though the traffic signs and lights are only meant for vehicles.
They ride across intersections and junctions without observing other road users. Breaking the rules seems to be the hobby of this generation of drivers.
Other road vices on the increase include a vehicle following too closely for comfort, failing to signal intent to change lanes, and other forms of negligent or inconsiderate driving behaviour.
These uncouth drivers generally commit multiple violations in their attempt to make up time. Unfortunately, these actions put the rest of us at risk and, if not addressed, the public’s concern over aggressive driving will continue to grow.
Aggressive driving is truly dangerous and cannot be tolerated.
The media should and actually must make a conscious effort to report traffic offences to the public. A good practice is in Kenya where one of their main TV stations uncovers the indiscipline drivers in an episode called “Road Hog” that is aired every Sunday evening.
Law enforcement officers also have a responsibility to enlighten the public on identifying rogue drivers through print media and billboards as they have been occasionally doing.
Careless, negligent, or impudent vehicle operation must not be tolerated.
Though there are hotline numbers present, the general public needs to be sensitised further to report indiscipline driving incidents to the law enforcement authorities. These could include unsafe highway incidents like using cell phone while driving among others.
All drivers must be thoughtful of the vehicle they are driving, know the roads or have the knowledge of road rules, traffic signals, about pedestrians using the road and so on.
Many road rage incidents have resulted from drivers pretending or allowing their egos to stand in the way of common sense, good judgment and not giving attention to safety.
There is need to understand that driving is a huge responsibility that must be learned in steps and practiced over and over. We have to drive safely, obey the traffic laws, and respect the rights of other drivers.
Not only should we concentrate on our own driving, we should also be well aware of the other vehicles around us. Driving safely also includes how and where we park our cars.
We must have the wisdom of using the knowledge to drive the vehicles based on the needs and wants, while respecting others’ needs and wants as well and conforming to road rules and regulations.
Unfortunately, the wisdom part seems to lack sometimes and thus the quagmire we get into when using the road network.
Defensive driving requires a presumption that all the drivers in front are certainly not experts. They might be but other factors like driving while in a bad mood or when one is under stress or is suffering from illness is sure to lessen one’s concentration. People should opt not to drive at all and instead use public transport in such cases.
There is also a bunch of our good driving schools that might be bringing their students for practical in highways at a relatively earlier stage. You will not be surprised that the ‘tiny’ car making zigzag moves in front of you has one of these fellows.
The road network is quite improved in Kigali and its sectors; it will not be bad if one is advised to take advantage and train in other less congested roads before coming to the highways.
Finally, there is high risk of losing sanity on our roads if we don’t inculcate self-discipline while on the wheels.
Like other modern cities, Kigali is reaching a point where huge units of vehicles are imported and bought on a daily basis.
This shows that there would be need for extra care, patience and vigilance in using our road infrastructure as vehicle or moto drivers.