Still on Convoys

02 Feb 2013

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Convoy of cars

Today, I hope to tie-up my piece on convoy driving. Last week, I  concluded by stating that the success of a convoy depends on two things-the driver of the lead vehicle knowing  where he is going and the driver of each car staying without fail, with the car behind; not the car in front. Before I dwell deeply on the focus for today, Let me equally state here that even where this two vital conditions prevail, a third and determining variable within the context of the present discourse in our clime depends solely on the principal or what can be referred to as the VIP. The examples of the VIPs cited last week shows that the decency or otherwise of a convoy is directly related to the attitude of the Principal, meaning that no matter the anxiety of the convoy drivers to disregard laid down rules, the disposition of the Principal finally counts.

Now permit me to give a thumbs- up to the Federal Executive Council for their quick response to the incidences of road crashes involving convoys. Last Wednesday, the FEC, approved the Federal Road Safety Corps’ training proposal for convoy drivers of state governors, Ministers, heads of government agencies, and permanent secretaries in a bid to halt increasing rate of auto accidents involving VIP convoys. I commend this move even though reactions have however trailed this positive development. The first reaction came from a lecturer who said, ‘’I wonder if you could include the bank drivers/pick-ups and many so-called operation vehicles of Police and Military they can be menacing on the roads. A couple of times they have caused accidents too’’. Other observers have expressed concern over the attitude of some VIP, who  they believe rarely caution their drivers. The common trend among convoy is the penchant for excessive speed, recklessness and driving against the flow of traffic. I must state here that there are no specific laws or immunity for executive convoy.-meaning that they are to operate within the ambit of the relevant traffic laws in the country. While we await the take-off of this training programme, permit me to share this material I sourced on convoy driving. Since  success of a convoy depend on the driver of the lead car knowing where he is going and the driver of each car staying, WITHOUT FAIL, with the car BEHIND; NOT the car in front, we need to dwell further on this.

What this means is that each driver, starting with the lead car, drives in such a way that they never lose visual contact, for any significant period, with the car following. 

The driver should not attempt to stay with the car in front under any circumstance. His responsibility and allegiance is with the car BEHIND. Keep the car behind you in sight, if it is not, then STOP in a safe place as soon as possible. The speed of the convoy is important.  If all the cars went real slow, this stretching and shrinking might not be too bad. If they went real fast, things might get out of hand. And, there are always road conditions, traffic lights, stop signs, and other traffic to worry about. So, the first car should adjust speed according to what’s going on. On a 4-lane, speed up. On a dusty road with no wind blowing, slow way down. After a stop sign, or after a traffic light or after a turn, slow way down until “tail-end Charlie” reports being by the point of change
You should drive at a speed and in such a way that the car behind you stays in contact. This is the Fundamental Rule of Convoy driving.
You must  Drive at a speed that you can comfortably maintain. If all goes to plan, the actual speed of the convoy should be set by the slowest car. If you find you are pulling away from the car behind, slow down slightly to allow them maintain visual contact. Conversely, if the car behind you closes the gap, and you are able and willing to raise the speed slightly, do so until you have re-established a reasonable gap between the cars.

You must not close up on the car in front unless the car behind has closed up on you! Try and maintain a constant speed, try not to keep speeding up and slowing down. The effect is accentuated as you pass down the convoy. There is no set distance between cars in a convoy; it will depend on speed, road conditions and line of sight. On main roads, the distance can be quite large allowing other vehicles to overtake easily; on country routes the gap should be reduced to aid visual contact but still allow space for other traffic to overtake. In town, the gap should be as small as possible. This aids visual contact and maximizes the number of cars that can pass through traffic lights  during each sequence. If you’re driving in the convoy, there are some things to pay attention to, also--such as the plate number and color of the car you are behind. Your distance behind the car in front should be as constant as you can make it. For safety reasons, you should observe the “2-second” rule--never be closer than 2 seconds behind (count “one thousand one, one thousand two”).

If you see a car behind that isn’t in the convoy and wants to pass, open up your spacing so they won’t feel that they have to pass several cars at once. That way, they probably won’t tailgate you. Do you remember the old saying “Monkey see, monkey do”? That should be you in a convoy.

If the car leading you shows brake lights, step on your brakes. If it shows a turn signal, turn on your signal. If it changes lanes, you change lanes. If it speeds up or slows down, you do the same. If it pulls to the shoulder, you do too. Every car in a convoy should travel with headlights on. That we you know who’s part of the convoy, and everyone else knows you’re part of it too. You can also flash your lights to alert the driver in front of you if you need to slow down, pull over, or stop.  When in convoy, all cars must adhere to road rules & regulations. Stop when the light is red. Overtaking is not allowed! Stick to your position from start to the end. Always remember the car in front and at the back of you. Convoy driving is the collective responsibility of all actors(drivers) on the fleet.

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