Drive Safely. Be Safe. (And also Watch & Pray)


This incident happened yesterday, April 16th, 2015. While at work earlier in the day, I wasn`t feeling very robust. Having gotten my request (to go for rest and then for treatment) granted by my amiably concerned supervisor, I called on my son to drive down to the office and ship me home. Half walking and almost staggering through the back exit gate, I felt like a giant walking on a gnat’s limbs. No thanks to the chronic pains cruising through the joints of my worn out limbs.  Kind enough, I did not have long to wait. My young man soon came along and took charge. With him behind the steering wheel, I ambled over to his side in the car. Wriggling out of my work coveralls shirt, I was left with only the white sweat soaked singlet. The glare of the blazing sun was unforgiving. Thankfully enough, my Ray Ban was nearby. My heavily weary and squinting eyes soon had soothing relief.
Hitting the double-lane road, the engine roared into life. In no time at all, the machine has already done all the gear shifts. Full speed ahead. Hmm, there is still some zest and life left in this old workhorse afterall. We did not have long to travel before the traffic on the busy road quickly grinded to a standstill. Driving past the moribound Michelin tyre factory and the defunct glass factory, we soon passed the ever humming and booming PABOD brewery. Ascending the overhead bridge with the rusty skeleton of the old railway line below us, we were soon heading towards the Rumuobiakani “roundabout”. It was then, we noticed the mayhem on the other side of the highway. Evidently, the accident happened just a few minutes before we reached that spot. The traffic was now crawling on at snail speed as we now share our own lane with the diverted traffic from the other side. I reached for my camera phone and was attempting to open the door and grab some quick shots. My son immediately cautioned me;  “… are you going to step out of the car with only your singlet on?” I fell back into my seat and hurriedly don my long sleeves shirt. Stepping out of the car, I quickly grabbed some shots. Thanks to the policemen who were around. With guns slung over their shoulders, they were quickly restoring sanity to the traffic on our side of the highway.

In this our part of the world, it is more common to see bad roads than good ones. (A colleague of mine opined that the amount of money spent by our polticians for their campaign billboards in the recently concluded elections will be more than enough to fix our bad roads if all those moneys were put together) Hence, whenever some of our drivers happen to hit a few hundred feet of unsoiled tarred road, they immediately want to put their old cars through all the speed paces of their second, third or fourth hand used cars. Forgetting that the roads are not Formula-1 racing tracks and that neither are their cars racing sport cars, unmitigated disasters like this often results. Like an ill wind that blows no man no good, pray that you should not not be at the wrong place at the wrong time as well.

Back to this incident, what could have been done to avoid a catastrophic disaster like this? What are the causes of road accidents? In our country, many factors contribute to frequent and aggravating road accidents. Here is a brief list, please do well to add your own observation:

LAWLESSNESS. As the government goes, so goes the governed. Even when it comes to abiding by the laws enacted by it, the government is often lawless and arbitrary. Those employed by the government often abuse their powers. Under the cloak of a corrupt authority, some government personnel use their power to extort money from drivers and make life miserable for all. 

INDISCIPLINE: Indiscipline invariably runs amok in a society where lawlessness has unbridled free reign. A highly significant proportion of the traffic hold-ups and accidents on our roads are caused by our recklessness and indiscipline. Most of the tears and the harrowing pains we experience on our daily driving and commutes are self inflicted, mindless flagellation on the altar of indiscipline. Time and again, you might have driven rough and gotten away with it. It is certain that one day, you would have driven rough one time too many. You were unable to get home to tell the storry. Obituary. No recall.

A lot has been said about this already, even though we cannot overemphasize it. It all boils down to attitude. Attitude. Attitude. Attitude.(sic).

One other factor contributing to these avoidable road accidents is selfishness. Selfishness invariably leads to lack of disrespect and incosideration for other road users. For many a driver, giving up ones right of way for just a brief moment is out of the question. Meanwhile, common sense would have informed them that doing this will sooner than later ease-up the road for a smoother traffic flow that benefit all. Ths “Me First” and the “It’s either my way, or no way for all”, attitude is killing us all.
What happened here is another case of what Professor Garrett Harding (1915 – 2003) described as the tragedy of the commons in which individuals neglect the well-being of the society in the pursuit of personal benefit.

Not final yet…, but my advice is that we all endeavour to be safe. Think safety, drive safely and while at it, watch and pray.