Home » General » And the Safe Driving Awards Go to

My day-to-day trade keeps me truly active on the road.

Well, the luckier city professionals spend their day desk-bound, away from the madness that is Harare City traffic.Adding to my woes are two routine drops and pick-ups on most school days.

Every other day, I happily pursue my professional activity, which often has me practising my sweat-and-blood craft in Borrowdale Brooke at an odd 5am, and then in Westgate, at 7am.

10am is usually Greendale and so on.

Not to say I am a pirate taxi driver, though!

My movements allow me to directly interact with lots of vehicular traffic at different times.

My keen eye always trained on the traffic movement is, therefore, naturally very critical of much of the shameful driving.

See, in Harare City, the average motorist (including the fully licensed ones) struggles with basic driving that would include miserable failure on the proper use of directional indicators.

Most drivers, if at all they ever bothered to, only initiate their directional indicator improperly, just metres before the turn or, even more strangely and needlessly, as they actually enter the turn!

The frequent, in-and-out changing of lanes on a dual carriageway, such as Samora Machel Avenue or Borrowdale Road, is a free-for-all, replete with zero courtesy and the safety-enhancing, appropriate use of indicators.

I actually wonder if anyone, ever, has been ticketed for dangerously switching lanes in Zimbabwe. (I do not think so our gracious cops have an in-built fascination for kombis, and pretty much little else.) Then there’s the fashionable, average motorist’s inability to consistently use a seat belt.

The details on the pathetic driving would chew up my valuable word count before I visit my main point but please, just one more point.

Dual carriageways, often suffer reckless abuse from selfish and annoying lane hogs.

And it’s not always some creepy, 90-year-old granny that crawls at a pedestrian pace, in the inside lane, unnecessarily holding up traffic. One can only imagine the consequential expletives, fed by utter frustration, of those wanting to be let loose!

The list of the infractions would be way too long.

Thankfully, even among such majority riff-raff, you will sporadically spot and be awed by some finesse and measured class correct driving as taught in days gone by, by patient, attention-to-detail, no-nonsense old school driving instructors.

During the good old days, driving schools would professionally fulfil their honourable mandate to train safe drivers: it was the day when everyone drove to Arrive Alive.

In the era before VID acquired a nationwide reputation as the most crooked institution in Zimbabwe. Before we had a term for road rage . . . It was a fantastic period a golden age!

In the course of covering thousands of kilometres I drive monthly, I have been thoroughly impressed by certain drivers.

Some I have personally known some I will never know. In recent years, I have noticed a massive improvement in the quality of Zimbabwean army drivers. The infamy and deadly notoriety and bravado of the 80s is history. Remember the deadly Puma? Whoever has been in charge of training military drivers deserves a raise – or a Bell’s.

I have occasionally noticed a black Toyota (81 CD 485) obviously an official American Embassy car. Thanks for driving safely, courteously, whoever drives that duty car. Traffic Friday prays that there would be an increase of such selfless drivers like you.

Then there’s 81 CD and 69 CD diplomatic vehicles registered to the American and South African embassies, and most probably, officially driven by Zimbabweans. The driving exhibited is always flawless. Thank you for saving yours and others’ lives.

The best drivers I have personally encountered include one Moses (surname unknown). He officially drove Dynamos FC in the late 90s and early this millennium.

He was a typical ghetto boy spoke loudly in unending doses of lingo and he liked a long hearty laugh the KKKKKKK-type! But once on the wheel, he metamorphosed into this quiet and focused driver.

He drove my poor Dynamos like it was Man U! Wherever you are, “Mhozom”, big up! You are one of the finest drivers on Earth. I learnt much from you by just watching you lovingly do your thing!

Honourable Ignatius Chombo’s driver, one Mr Choto, is yet another top-notch driver who adheres to the marked speed limits, religiously. I told him years ago he was so safe he was boring with his zero aenture.

I have been wowed too, in the past two years by the official driver of the national men’s football squad. He drives one of the new Government-owned King Long buses.

Now this guy is a gentleman a very careful man who will caress his brakes gently before a stop. He prefers his bus clean at all times and seems fussy about the nitty-gritties in between drives checking out oil and window washer levels, tyre pressure, etc. In short, he has a well-ingrained safety and courtesy culture. He’s the type that will drive professionally for 40 years and never be involved in an accident.

My gong though, goes to one Warrant Officer Samuel Mahachi. He was the Black Rhinos FC official driver in the ’80s and ’90s.

I interacted with him much the army from time-to-time, would kindly lend their luxury Mercedes-Benz coach to the national soccer team, where I was privileged to be among the backroom staff.

In fact, he drove the Warriors on one long trip to Selebi-Phikwe in Botswana and he just proved he was a natural born driver.

He had all the enduring qualities of a good driver! He genuinely cared for his passengers comfort and never bent any safety rule.

Why am I charmed by all these guys? Well, they consistently practise what they were taught at driving school.

Above all, in my book, they employ lots of courtesy and desist from distracted driving, such as driving and texting, which in my opinion is the next worst thing to DUI.

In fact, the Johns Hopkins Medical School authoritatively declares driving and texting to be so unsafe, perpetrators are like someone several times over the drink driving limit!

Traffic Friday encourages families and corporates to be soberly critical of each other’s driving. It may be a life saver.

As for Warrant Officer Mahachi, his legacy of great driving endures to this day years after his retirement from the army.

When my boys start driving in the next few years, I will tell them all about him. And because of him, I can put my hand up to challenge for the world’s safest driver.

Dear reader, would you?

It’s a Friday please keep the driving ‘happy, happy!’

Source : The Herald