In Summary
  • One rainy night I was driving in Eastlands with a friend and we found ourselves in a traffic jam.
  • There was a matatu behind me and without fail the driver proceeded to use whatever little pavement was available as an acceleration lane to ensure uninterrupted progress of his business.
  • I am proud of my own situational awareness, which is another way of saying I saw his thoughts long before he had even made his decision, and so I pulled forward ever so slightly to give room for his bus to go up the sidewalk  easily (please do not ever battle these people, you could die).
  • Well, anyone who has been in Nairobi’s traffic knows space is precious and lacking, so I didn’t have much room to manoeuvre anyway.

Hi, 

What is the best way to protect my car from other vehicles, especially overlapping matatus?

 

The best protection for the vehicle’s body from other road users (including rampaging matatus) is acute situational awareness on the driver’s part.

You have to learn to read minds, anticipate the worst and have a plan B for the moment things go belly up courtesy of another driver’s lack of sensitivity. Learn to give space, especially to the clinically insane and/or psychopathic. This will go a long way in keeping you free of scrapes and dings but it is not a 100 per cent surefire technique, as I will shortly narrate.

One rainy night I was driving in Eastlands with a friend and we found ourselves in a traffic jam. There was a matatu behind me and without fail the driver proceeded to use whatever little pavement was available as an acceleration lane to ensure uninterrupted progress of his business.

I am proud of my own situational awareness, which is another way of saying I saw his thoughts long before he had even made his decision, and so I pulled forward ever so slightly to give room for his bus to go up the sidewalk  easily (please do not ever battle these people, you could die).

Well, anyone who has been in Nairobi’s traffic knows space is precious and lacking, so I didn’t have much room to manoeuvre anyway.

He still kept coming, though, now mere millimetres off my bodywork to the left and not quite parallel. I dropped the passenger window and asked my friend to raise the idiot on the gong and tell him to hold up a minute as I create an inch of daylight for him to proceed unfettered.

The response? Casual dismissal, not unlike one would in the face of petulant conversation. He revved his engine, dipped his clutch, ground his gears into position, declutched and the next thing El Turbo rocked violently along its roll axis.

I had been hit, right after warning the man that he was going to hit my car. This was beyond belief.

Handbrake up, hazards on, belt off, and I step out of the car, murder in my eyes; to hell with the light drizzle. That is when I found the present tense because Eastlands matatus have crews that outnumber paying passengers, and they have “logistical assistants” stationed everywhere along their routes, which is why it took less than five seconds to find myself surrounded by elements not entirely of good character. Hop out the four-door with a four-four it was one, two, three and four. They numbered five or six. My passenger was trapped in the car by the too-close-for-comfort matatu; he couldn’t open his door. It is at such moments that one’s throat closes up and one starts quickly looking for an exit plan.

“You best get back in your car and just keep on driving, son,” they made it clear. I looked from the logistical assistants, to the driver who just glared at me wordlessly, and back to the logistical assistants.

Back into the car, seat belt on, handbrake down, hazards off, and slowly creep forward deeper into the traffic jam, pondering how it might be time for me to log on to the dark side of the Internet in search of an unregistered weapon...

 

Which is the correct way to start an automatic hybrid car?

Dear J M,

Are there any hybrid vehicles that are manual (I haven’t seen any so far hence the question)?

What is the correct procedure for starting an automatic hybrid vehicle? (Press brake pedal and push the button - keyless (or turn the key) or just turn the key or press the start button without pressing the brake pedal?

Do hybrid vehicles need 30 seconds to 5 mins to warm up first, or can you just drive off immediately after starting the engine?

May Clarkson

 

Hello there,

Is your name actually May Clarkson or are you just a dedicated follower of British motoring TV shows? Anyway...

The original Honda Insight had an optional manual transmission is what some quick Google-Fu reveals. Apparently, the Civic Hybrid and CRZ too had manuals, but that is neither here nor there. Here is something a little more captivating to masticate on along those lines: someone transformed an open-top 1978 Ferrari 308 (ancestor of the current 488 GTB) into an electric car, which is interesting enough, but what really got me was the fact that it is equipped with a manual transmission. I won’t narrate here what driving it is like (Google-Fu, yo!) or why it even has a manual transmission in the first place, but it is something you definitely want to see.

 

*           *           *

I am guessing there will be some slight variations in starting procedures depending on manufacturer, but more likely than not, pressing the brake pedal is a prerequisite. It is in most (automatic) cars anyway, hybrid or not, so I wouldn’t expect any different from one car to the other.

Page 1 of 2