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The distance between Fort Portal and Entebbe is 251km; but, this did not stop Amos Mugerwa from attempting to drive it in a few hours. By the time he reached Kampala, he was exhausted and sleepy. Instead of finding a cheap place to spend a few minutes or an hour in rest, he decided to continue on to Entebbe. But first, he stopped at the Railway Station to pick up a few Entebbe-bound passengers. That action is what saved Mugerwa’s life. To keep himself awake, Mugerwa had switched on his radio and tuned it to the highest volume. Naturally, his passengers were not amused but they did not indicate their displeasure.
At Bwebajja, just as you are slopping from Kitende, Mugerwa fell asleep at the wheel. Aggie Natukunda, sitting in the passenger seat, noticed something was not right. “I sensed the front of the car moving towards the right – to the middle of the road. There was a car coming towards us from the opposite direction but our driver did not seem to be bothered. I turned to look at him. His head was thrown back – on the headrest. His eyes were closed although his hands were on the steering wheel!”
Natukunda could have screamed and left her fate in the hands of God. However, she reached for the steering wheel. “It was a decision I made in a second after I saw the other car flashing its lights at us. I grabbed the wheel and attempted to turn it to the left. The driver woke up and by reflex resisted my move.”
The car moved to the left and almost veered off the road. The driver’s resistance however, helped to stabilise it. Henry Lubega, who began driving 30 years ago, vouches for the importance of a short nap when one is exhausted on the road. “If you are driving on village roads, the danger is not as high as if you are driving on a highway. A ten-minute nap can save a life. If you are alone in the car, lower the windows to let fresh air in. Then, when you reach a safe spot, park at the roadside, get out of the car and stretch.”
All drivers should carry at least a bottle of water in their cars. After your short nap, wash your face to remove the last traces of sleep from your eyes. When you resume driving, make sure that at least the driver’s window is open, even if it is at night.
In the Highway Code driving when tired is described as dangerous. Never start a long journey when you are tired. Avoid driving between midnight and 6:00 A.M.
Adverts on TV and Radio advise long distance drivers to take energy drinks to stay awake. Other drivers use drugs, such as mirungi or miraa. However, the latter cause impairment in judgement. If you are to use an energy drink, use it only to help you get to the next safe stop so that you can take a nap.
Signs that you are tired
- Continues yawning
- Drifting between lanes
- Tailgating the car ahead of you
- Drifting off the road
- Missing traffic stops
- Having wandering thoughts
Published on: 2018-09-05