Traffic Police, here's a road habit to fight

There is a slight chance that I offended the law Friday evening after I stopped by the roadside to chat with a traffic police cop, and to ask him something I have always shuddered about; shouldn’t people who drive at night with full beam headlights be punished?

There is a slight chance that I offended the law Friday evening after I stopped by the roadside to chat with a traffic police cop, and to ask him something I have always shuddered about; shouldn’t people who drive at night with full beam headlights be punished?

One of the most ‘dreadful’ things for a motorist is being flagged by a traffic police cop; sometimes the fear for road cops among motorists is enough to cause an accident out of sheer panic, even when one has all their affairs in order. This fear is not only unwarranted but also unhealthy.


Well aware of it, cops often use it to their advantage, playing psychological tricks on motorists to determine their road confidence and depending on the impression, lead to asking more serious questions, including demanding to see their driving qualifications.


So, what I did Friday was play reverse psychology by voluntarily stopping to talk to a traffic cop as opposed to being stopped to be talked to; I could tell that the cop was surprised and curious in equal measures. I gave him my salutations after which I told him my name.


“I don’t know whether it is illegal but I just stopped to greet you and thank you guys for keeping our roads safe, and, share my thoughts on something,” I said.

“Really,” the cop responded, his face broadcasting genuine delight. He smiled and then broke into a hearty laughter, one that revealed a good natured person hidden deep in the cop attire.

Not to cause a scene, I asked if I could park properly and get out for a two minute chat, to be sure not to waste his time; this alerted his professional curiosity but relented after determining I meant no harm and signaled his colleague standing a few meters away that all was well.

He did a quick sweep of the car and found nothing to reprimand me about. He then asked me to feed his curiosity, by telling him whatever it was that had compelled me to stop.

Recently, while driving at night, I almost crushed into a roadside canyon after I was momentarily blinded and dazzled by an oncoming vehicle that was being driven with full-beam headlights in spite of frantic signals to the driver to dim the headlights.

Driving is a group game where the safety of one driver is dependent on the hope that the guy driving the next car is competent and knows what they’re doing on the road.

By definition, driving is the controlled operation and movement of a motorized vehicle with wheels, such as a car from one point to another, and driving is a skill on which many people earn a living employed as professional chauffeurs, such as Uber drivers.

In the past, to acquire driving skills, one had to get enrolled in a professional driving school which were highly sought mainly because most cars were of manual transmission and required skillful instruction to learn how to operate them.

But lately, the influx of automatic transmission cars has made it possible for anyone to become a driver in a minute but with little knowledge of basic rules of driving on public roads.

In a way, like internet based publishing has done to newsroom editors, automatic cars are gradually rendering driving school instructors almost redundant. I know many a person who have entered an automatic car and headed straight for the road; are you one of them?

But beyond simply teaching how to move a car from one position to another (driving skills) auto-mobile schools also teach basic common sense; things that one must do or not while on a public road where the safety of others is dependent on your conduct as a driver.

Full beam headlights is one of the biggest hazards one has to deal with while motoring on Kigali roads at night; but in a city where street lights work efficiently hence making night visibility on roads almost as clear as daylight, why would one drive with full-beam lights on?

Thanks to beam lights, I almost crushed the old good Merc in the canyon! In many cases of head-on collision accidents, beam lights are cited as the cause as they don’t only leave you dazzled but also blinded making it easy to lose focus and crush into barriers.

Full lights should only be deployed under extremely poor visibility circumstances and in a way that doesn’t dazzle other road users; deploying full-beam headlights where visibility is already enhanced by street lights is not only misuse but also a danger to the safety of other road users.

Three years ago, while a student in Beijing, Chinese traffic cops in a bid to punish drivers who misuse their headlights and dazzle other road-users, came up with a novel method dubbed ‘eye for an eye ’ where offenders would be made to stare at the police’s own full-beam headlights for five minutes; a very painful but transformative experience.

“Very interesting insight; we shall certainly consider this in our operations,” the cop said.

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