Saturday, August 21, 2010

Life is a Highway

Top Zambian Transportation Laws

I am currently studying Zambian Highway Code in preparation for my driver’s test. As soon as we actually have our vehicle from customs, I need to practice driving more and then go in and take a verbal and driving test. Here are a handful of my favorites:

#52 Do not carry animals on vehicle roof-tops, steps, running board, or any other place on top of a vehicle while the vehicle is in motion.

#63 (for bicyclists) Make sure your cycle is in good condition – particularly the brakes, tyres, lamps, rear reflector and bell – before you ride it. (This one would be humorous for you if you could see many of the bikes people are riding.)

#76 (for animal drawn carts) You must keep your animals under control.

Three from my favorite section, about wheelbarrows:

#78 You must not overload a wheelbarrow.

#79 Ensure that your load does not obstruct others, nor inconvenience others including yourself. (If I am pushing a wheelbarrow down the highway, trust me, I’m inconvenienced no matter what my “load” looks like.)

#80 You must be courteous as you move about.

I’m convinced that nobody driving on the highways has read the highway codes. There are entire sections on pedestrians and cyclists that I’m sure every Zambian would be surprised to know about. Particularly at night, Zambian pedestrians are at a real disadvantage. I’m not kidding when I say they are practically invisible. It’s like everyone purposefully wears dark colors to make their chances of survival even less.

This week I was with two of my female teammates driving one of them home at night on Kafue road. Kafue is a big sketchy road and I’m not sure how fast we were going, maybe 45-50 miles an hour along with the traffic. All of a sudden Andrea yells STOP STOP and Megan slams on the brakes as we realize that a beer truck ahead is actually parked in the middle of this main road. Megan and Andrea of course rolled their windows down to yell and shake a couple fists at the driver as we passed. If Megan had reacted just a bit slower I think the three of us would have been mashed.

The next night we were driving with our teammates Brent and Kerri to have a bite to eat. Brent slowed down with traffic and began to turn right into the restaurant parking lot when this big fat car slammed right into us on our right side taking Brent’s brush guard and right signal light off. That accident put a damper on our evening, but thank the Lord that nobody was harmed!

Needless to say, driving at night seems a little hairy to me. The Zambian Highway Code is well-intentioned and speaks a lot about being courteous. Let’s pray that more Zambian drivers would take this to heart 

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