“Sleeping Policemen”

No, I do not intend to malign our “Blue Light Special” officers – not that I have had any experience with them!!! – but I refer to what tries to control, to some extent, traffic. (Please, my friend Matt, don’t take offence!)

Roads in Tanzania, back in our days, were at the best questionable. All, except in towns, were dirt. Some graveled, others had a clay-like murram surface, others were just scraped earth, others were the smooth cow-paths on the sides of a well-corrugated dirt road. Maybe, sometimes, you could even get up to 50 m.p.h. on a cow-path (if it was straight enough!). But, on that corrugated and graveled main road you had to maintain about 50 m.p.h. in order not to shake yourself and the vehicle to pieces. At that speed the vehicle only hit the top of the corrugations! Sometimes a road “smoother” was used to try and level things out.

“Internet Wikipedia says that such roads can cause :
sharper and larger stones cutting and puncturing tires, or being thrown up by the wheels and damaging the underside, especially puncturing the fuel tank of unmodified cars
     stones skipping up hitting the car body, lights or windshields when two vehicles pass at high speed
     dust thrown up from a passing vehicle reducing visibility
‘     washboard’ corrugations cause loss of control or damage to vehicles due to excessive vibration. … .
     skidding on mud after rain
vehicle fishtailing as a result of ruts in the surface of the gravel. Often found on frequently traveled roads
In higher rainfall areas, the increased camber required to drain water, and open drainage ditches at the sides of the road, often cause vehicles with a high centre of gravity, such as trucks and off-road vehicles, to overturn if they do not keep close to the crown of the road
     Excess dust permeates door-opening rubber moulding breaking the seal
     Lost binder in the form of road dust, when mixed with rain, will wear away the painted surfaces of vehicles
     Many gravel roads are only one lane wide or slightly larger, thus requiring special attention when driving at higher speeds”

WOW!!! And we survived!

Sometimes, as you approached a town and in order to slow down a fast-moving driver, the Public Works Department laid down (or built up) a speed hump. Sometimes it was just a half-buried log across the road. Sometimes it was a mound of dirt. Or a concrete strip! In any case, it usually was high enough that if you didn’t slow down enough, it could rip out your exhaust system – to say nothing of possibly breaking your springs and/or shock absorbers.

I hit one with my Land Rover on a back road which led to an old town with abandoned government buildings. No. I didn’t rip out the exhaust system (Land Rovers are a bit higher off the ground than cars) nor were the springs or shocks affected. Just me! It bounced me so high off the seat that I hit my head on the roof of the vehicle.

Coming into town, I saw the Police Post and went in to complain. Mostly unused road; no warning signs; etc. The police commander responded, “But it did its job! We call those ‘sleeping policemen’. They are lying down but they sure do their job. And without having to pay them a salary!”

So, “sleeping policemen”, “speed humps”, “speed bumps” or “speed tables” (as they have called them around here where we now live) – I guess that all do their job and are a lot better than that flashing blue light! And cost the government a lot less!

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