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Observe the traffic rules


The Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act No. 20 of 1940 (amended many times) is a comprehensive act that covers, amazingly, almost everything concerning motor vehicles and road traffic, from the formal issues of registration and licensing to rules concerning the use of the road.

The vehicle you drive must be registered and licensed with the Licensing Authority prescribed by law. The licensing officer places your name on the licensing register and it is forwarded to the Licensing Authority. You must pay your relicensing fees every year and keep the car in good condition. Before you relicense, the designated inspector of the department must inspect your car (A new car would have some relief for the first two years). Your registration information must be displayed conspicuously on the vehicle’s windshield and not stored in some compartment inside.

If the vehicle has a defect so as to be a source of danger to any person travelling in the vehicle, or user on the road, the license may be cancelled or refused. When you sell your vehicle, there must be a formal transfer of ownership. It requires an amendment of the register, the certificate of registration and the licence. Otherwise you will suffer the consequences of any misdeed or mishap that the person who buys your car caused. If the certificate is lost or torn up, then you would be issued a duplicate licence. You must give up the duplicate licence if you find the original certificate that was lost. You would be guilty of an offence if you knowingly hold both.

The number of motor vehicles on the road has increased considerably. As long as you can afford a car it will be more convenient than public transport, but make sure you have the proper license to drive. Don’t wait until you get in an accident to seek one. There is no longer the little blue book. All the relevant information would be printed on a card issued to you with your picture. Always keep it with you when you are driving. The police would ask for it along with the insurance information when you get in an accident. Remember to observe the rules concerning the use of the road.

If you do not follow the rules, you could find yourself in trouble. Our roads are narrow and you have to compete with other motorists. You have an obligation to extend certain courtesies to them.

In short, you are not the only road user. There is the traffic coming in front you on the right and there is traffic behind you. Respect other drivers as well as pedestrians. If you decide to over-take, do it according to the rules. In other words, wait until the on-going traffic is clear and at a sufficient distance before you attempt to pass the vehicle in front you. Your judgment is important. Make use of your indicator so that other drivers would know that you are turning off the road to the right or to the left.

Do not stop abruptly, unless it is a case of emergency. Slow down gradually before you brake. Many accidents are caused because of the carelessness and the inattentiveness of the driver. It is important to have your eyes on the road at all times. Most important, do not drive under the influence of alcohol. If you go to a party, have a designated driver, that is, the person who did not consume alcohol. There are far too many people on our roads that do not observe the rules. Let us make the right moves today.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law. E-mail address is: [email protected]