Driving tip: overtaking in dust

Many more of Kenya’s roads are now being tarmacked, but motorists still have to handle plenty of dust in terms of driving technique…and consideration for those living and walking along dusty roads.

Briefly:  overtaking in dust can range from uncomfortable to downright suicidal, depending how thick the dust is, how experienced a driver you are, and other road conditions.  Whatever the circumstances, always start the process by turning on your lights, and bear in mind that the vehicle you are overtaking is less likely to know you are there, and more likely (on a dirt road) to have to swerve suddenly or to lose directional control.

Also, while dust is, by definition, very fine particles of earth, in normal road-going conditions it also contains a lot of bigger pieces (big enough to chip paint or shatter a windscreen). 

So co-operate, as far as possible, with the vehicle you are overtaking, to pull well wide and stay wide until the shower of grit from your wheels is unlikely to reach the car you have passed.

In really thick dust, overtaking is not possible without the co-operation of the car in front.  And the car in front often has little or no chance of seeing through the plume behind to know whether another car is catching up; and it is  not practical for the leading cars motoring along dusty roads to continually stop to check whether there is any following traffic. 

But you can and should be especially watchful of your rear-view mirror, particularly in places where rearward vision might improve - at corners where wind direction may blow the dust clear for a short time, over stonier sections where the dust may be thinner, at drifts where slower speeds will cause less dust to be generated, and so on.  Common sense and common courtesy are the prime skills involved.

Vehicles going more slowly than the general flow should be especially watchful;  vehicles going faster than the flow need to be especially patient. 

With regard to people walking and living alongside dusty roads, there is a huge distinction between town and country.  In many open road situations, it is not practical for every car to slow down when passing every pedestrian or building.  Motorists should take whatever moderating measures they feel they can, but walkers and dwellers must accept that eating dust goes with the territory.

That is not the case in town.  All roads are lower speed and dirt roads are fewer and shorter.  It is therefore absolutely reasonable to expect motorists to go DEAD SLOW when conditions are especially dusty. 

Exercising your rally fantasies on suburban, residential lanes is conduct that warrants adjectives which pedestrians and householders would like to deliver to the front of your mind, via the lower back of your body, wrapped in razor wire.

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