I was Kachumbari
watching the proceedings of the presidential petition on TV over
a drink with some friends and once the proceedings were over we
still had some rounds of paid for drinks to finish off before
heading for our abodes.
In the aftermath of
the pleadings of the “learned friends” there was need for some
light relief and Kachumbari gave us an example of how a series
of stupid actions can result in some serious grief.
happened on the Thika Highway a couple of months ago.
There was this lady
driving a large SUV on the highway.
There was a light
drizzle in patches along the highway following some fairly heavy
rain earlier in the day.
Some sections were
completely dry and others had surface water.
including this lady, were driving at near the maximum speed
allowed on the road and when hitting the wet patches of road
would send a mist of water streaming behind.
should have to take whatever action they needed to stay safe but
a large number just continued driving at the same speed but
turned on the wipers.
The one thing that
Kachumbari noticed was that many drivers kept the same distance
between them and the car in front irrespective of whether it was
dry or wet.
In all cases it was
less than the “three second” rule that we were all taught (I
presume) when in driving school. For those who may have
forgotten or were not taught, a driver following another vehicle
is expected to pick a marker on the road ahead.
When the vehicle
ahead goes past the marker, one then counts three seconds and if
one has passed the marker then you are too close to the car in
Under wet conditions
one has to then increase this count by at least double to six
seconds to take care of the treacherous surface of the road.
The case was that
all the drivers observed were driving too close to the cars in
At a point where the
road was dry and cars were driving at high speeds, a truck on
the other side of the central divide and driving in the opposite
direction hit a pool of water that had remained in a depression
in an otherwise dry section of the road.
The truck was in a
crowded section of road and could not change lanes to avoid
driving into the pool at speed.
The truck driver
chose not to reduce speed, as there were other trucks and
vehicles all travelling at about the same speed.
Sudden braking would
have caused a pile up.
A sheet of water was
created and this splashed across to the other side of the road
and straight at the windscreen of the lady in the SUV.
She was present to
the fact that there was the central dividing barrier to her
right and a lorry she was overtaking to her left.
She braked suddenly
as the sheet of water was thrown towards her windscreen.
The car that was
behind was too close and could not brake in time and smashed
into the back of the SUV forcing it ricochet off the barrier and
into the side of the truck it was overtaking.
This then led to
other vehicles also hitting each other as they snaked, bumped
and jumped into all directions.
By the time
everything came to a standstill there were twelve vehicles
involved in the accident on one side of the highway and five on
the opposite lane caused by one vehicle that was catapulted over
the central barrier.
There were several
bruised and battered drivers and passengers as a result of being
properly belted up and with the blows cushioned by the
deployment of air bags in the various vehicles.
Luckily no one was
A few people had
broken limbs – courtesy of not having been wearing seat belts
and being thrown about like peas in a pod.
This situation could
happen to anyone and the lesson that we all learned from this is
to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
That would have
minimised all the mayhem that happened behind eth lady driving
For the unlucky
lady, the salutary lesson is that one has to be present to all
that is happening around and because the vehicle behind was
following too close, she should have simply driven through the
sheet of water whilst braking normally rather than treat it as
though it was stone thrown at the windscreen.
Our natural instinct
is to either duck or brake hard to minimise the impact of the
missile coming towards us.
Water is not a
missile but our reactions in the split second tends to consider
the worst case rather than digest the reality.
We need to condition
ourselves as drivers every time we meet an unusual situation on
the road and mentally rehearse what we would do to escape from
that situation without damage.
As Kachumbari says,
preparedness is the best defence.