Driving is a privilege that you may take for granted, and the road is something you should have immense respect for. Things can go very wrong more so while driving in an unfamiliar destination no matter how experienced you are behind the steering wheel. In Uganda, you can find a number of destinations suitable for your next vacation that you can plan exploring via self drive adventures such as road trips and Rooftop camping adventures among others.
As you are planning your vacation in the pearl of Africa, don’t overlook the safety of your life, friends, family other road users and property among others while driving as this can ruin your adventure in one way or the other. Are you in your own car or rented one, always take great care to stay safe on the road.
Note that you can rent yourself a Car to drive you through your favorite destinations from several Car Hire companies in the country that you can find online. These offer a wide fleet of good 4×4 Car Rentals in Uganda on self drive at a relatively cheap cost. Most of vehicles available for rental by these companies are basically for tour purposes and most are customized to adapt to different challenges of driving in developing countries such as the poor road conditions in most tourist destinations and unpredictable weather. While booking your car, you can ask for advise on which type of car that will do for you better according to your travel plan as there are some that are only good for paved roads.
Today, allow us to share with you some few tips that you can put in mind to ensure a safe self drive vacation while in Uganda.
Always first observe the mechanical conditions of the Vehicle
Did you know that driving a vehicle that isn’t worthy hitting the road may devastate your adventure. A car in a poor mechanical condition may not only lead you to traffic accidents, but also keep you long hours on the road while fixing this and that as it constantly breaks down.
If the car is yours, taking care of it doesn’t just allow you to get more value out of it but also ensure your safety too. For rented cars, always ensure the car is well serviced and if possible first do a road testing of 1 – 2 km before signing the agreements to use it on your trip. Always check the blinkers/ indicators, brakes, brake lights, speedometer and car service among others. These are things that can actually lead to avoidable accidents and injuries.
However, note that in Uganda and other developing countries, most of the cars on the road and those available for rental are not of the latest models but are always in good mechanical conditions. Old model cars have proved to be more efficient on dirt roads that are the most common in almost all tourist destinations on the continent. Therefore, the age shouldn’t scare you away from securing one for your next trip.
Keep high Levels of Patience
It is always advisable to ensure high levels of patience while driving on the road, more so when you are driving in an unfamiliar destination. Impatient people make for very bad drivers, and that’s because being agitated and on the edge can actually make you rush, speed and overlook the basic rules of driving.
Avoid making reckless moves in a bid to get to your destination faster whether you are late for any activity or under immense time pressure for other reasons. If you have to be somewhere important in time, draft a simple roster for your daily activities and set alarms to wake you up in case you have to leave early. This keeps you calm on the roads and if you’re running late, communicate to where you are going to tell them about how you have been caught up with time. It’s better to be late and safe than to try and rush and then end up creating an accident you will regret.
While driving in urban centers and areas with high traffic congestion such as Kampala, always try to take care of the Matatu Taxis (passenger vans) and passenger motorcycles since these are the renowned culprits of impatient driving on the road. While by passing them, drive with great care as they can do anything without noticing you about it such as breaking off or entering into the road without even dropping light indicators.
Don’t Drive Under the Influence
This is a rule that shouldn’t need to be reiterated, but the sad reality is many people still put themselves behind the wheel after having alcohol. Alcohol gives us over confidence and drivers often underestimate how much alcohol impairs the driving capability. This is how many experienced drivers end up being the cause of really bad crashes.
In Uganda, driving under the influence may lead to many other problems that can ruin your vacation or road trip such as suspension of licenses, imprisonment, and even steep surcharges to keep your driver’s license after you have been convicted. If you are on a trip and you can’t keep away with knocking back a few drinks, call a ride-share or hire a vehicle with a driver to spare yourself and everyone else injury or worse. Different Car Rental companies offer chauffeur services from as low as $30 per day.
Don’t Cross the Speed Limits
Every region in Uganda has a designated speed limit. For highways it is always 100km per hour as well as 50km in urban centers. If you have a rented car, the speed limits are always clearly stated in the Car Rental Terms and Conditions that is always 80km/hr on highways and 40km/hr in urban centers as well as National Parks. You may want to rush to your next destinations but always before doing so, first mind about other road users, the negative impact that can happen to your life and the costs that you have to meet once you have cause serious damages to the vehicle.
One of the most popular rented cars on self drive in Uganda by foreign travelers are the Toyota Rav4’s and Land Cruisers for which you can spend on as low as $400 and $650 to rent them respectively for 10 days. However, these rentals can dry out your wallet in charges once you have caused serious damages to them. For instance, Most Car rentals policies state a charge between $1000 – $2000 to compensate single accidents such as roll-overs that always happen due to over speeding and negligence while driving.
Avoid driving at night
Darkness in some areas of Uganda cone with many challenges while driving. From drivers on the steering under the influence of alcohol to car property snatchers and car thieves, any thing can happen. This is one of the reasons why most Car Rental companies advise on not driving the cars after 7.00pm and before 6.00am. This is always for the safety of you, your property and the car.
Another reason why it it so, most insurance companies do not compensate for damages that happen to the vehicles during night. Thus if you wish to drive your rented car beyond the allowed time, be ready to meet all the excess charges for any thing that happens to them.
Limit Cellphone Usage while Driving
It is your first time to drive in Uganda and you are not certain of the roads, so you will need to use your phone for google maps to locate you to your next destination. Yes, it’s hard to imagine life in a new destination without mobile navigation devices. Not only that, cellphones give us music, news, social media and just about everything we need. However, one of the biggest problems with these mobile devices is that they make everyone incredibly distracted, and the last place you want to be distracted is when you’re on the road.
You need focus to be able to navigate the roads effectively. Try to turnoff social media and other addictive apps while driving and if you are using the Maps, use the audio directions rather than always looking on the screen keeping trace of the roads. Be alert at all times, and avoid disaster.
In a nutshell, reaching your destination safely is one of the greatest feeling of any traveler. Always lock the car windows and doors not only after after parking it, but also while driving in traffic jam to keep your property safe. Phone snatching is one of the highest recorded crimes to travelers. Don’t leave on the head lamps after paring the car to save the power on the accumulator, so it doesn’t disturb you tomorrow while starting the Car.