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When driver ahead won’t let you pass

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Rarely does the driver ahead know you. But sometimes you discover that somehow he has made up his mind to give you a hard time. Often, it happens this way: You are behind the wheel and in a hurry on a narrowish road behind a vehicle ahead which won’t give you way. It could be anything; a tractor, a loaded truck, or an unhurried civil servant driver, writes Motoring Guru.

You try a few tricks; my favourite is feigning nonchalance as I hit the indicator to overtake. I even pull back a few seconds and wait for the lumbering jerk (or jerkess) ahead to pull slightly to the side – a clear sign that he/she is cooperating. It works most times but not always.

That is when I try my other tricks. I flash lights and show intent of determination to overtaken. Big mistake. Aggressiveness will not pay on the road. Often the driver ahead becomes even more agitated. At this point, I am dangerously tailgating.

So I am forced to pull back again and retake my nonchalant pose. But by this time it is clearly a ruse as I am just waiting for a chance to hit the pedal past the vehicle ahead. But often it appears the guy ahead is a psychic of sorts – because as soon as I hit the accelerator, the driver ahead too hits theirs as if it is exactly the moment they have been waiting for. Soon we are hurtling side-by-side at break neck speed as I am determined to overtake and the other driver is determined not to be overtaken. It gets quite dangerous if there is an oncoming vehicle!

Having been in this situation a few times, I ask the question; why does the driver ahead not want me to overtake when clearly they are very slow? What is the best way out of such a situation? What does the law say?

In the process, I have learnt a few things that I wish to share.

First, you must ask yourself if, in your hurry to pass, you have done something to get the other driver provoked. The best way to ensure that is not the case is to keep the two second rule when behind and avoid flashing lights or hooting. Simply indicate and wait.

Note that attempting to accelerate past the car ahead could push you past the speed limit and into trouble. Under the Uganda Traffic and Road Safety Act such behavior amounts to reckless or dangerous driving under Section 110(1) or even speeding under Section 120. Any police officer can arrest you. Claiming to be battling a driver who won’t give way will not save you.

Conclusion: If the driver ahead won’t give way, don’t over take.

Does this mean that drivers who obstruct others on the road, move at snail’s pace, and refuse to be overtaken have a license to do so under the traffic rules? Far from it.

Under the Section 110 (1): “Any person who drives a motor vehicle, trailer or engineering plant in a manner which, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, is or might be dangerous to the public or to any person, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than sixty currency points and not exceeding ninety currency points or imprisonment of not less than two years and not exceeding three years or both.”

In other words, the obstructing driver is guilty of an offence.

Finally, recall that most accidents occur when overtaking. So overtake only when you are sure it is safe.

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editor@independent.co.ug

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