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Mec Monday: How to deal with Kenyan traffic cops

 Getting pulled over by police can be a nerve-racking experience

One thing about driving in our beautiful country is that everyone is out to get you. If it’s not the matatu drivers who just long to scratch your car, it’s the nduthi guys who are at constant war with your side mirrors not to mention our traffic officers who are a whole other terror. Ah, the blue uniformed individuals who are placed on our roads to really remind us that Hii nchi si ya mamako. Traffic cops can make your carefree morning drive feel like you are digging yourself out of the depths of hell with a wooden spoon. That doesn’t mean we haven’t devised ways to deal with them:

1. If flagged down, don’t run

The temptations to speed off when the traffic cop raises his hand to stop you are overwhelming. Trust me, I know. But usually, if you stop and greet them with the best customer service smile, they tend to soften up. When he/she comes to your window, don’t panic. Lower it, smile and say, “Habari ya asubuhi mkubwa. Uko salama boss,” for a male cop. Female cops are a bit of a tougher nut to crack: “Habari ya asubuhi madam. Uko salama madam?” Always use madam, madam is a sign of respect. When you use ego-boosting titles, they immediately acknowledge that you respect them and the hostility tends to simmer down just a bit.

2. Don’t argue

Listen, sometimes they stop us for the silliest of reasons, it’s actually ridiculous. But it is their time to exercise their ‘power’. Let them flap their wings and pretend to actually accuse you of an offence that doesn’t exist. The faster you cooperate the faster you get back on the road. The biggest offense is ‘disrespecting’ them and doubting their intelligence. To them, this offence is greater than running someone over on Mombasa Road.

 When you're stopped, smile and be courteous

3. Don’t allow them into your car

The law is quite clear, they have no right to enter your vehicle. If there is truly an offence then you should be booked. No one should enter your car is they haven’t been invited. So, if the cop insists on entering your car, tell him/her to write you up and the two of you can meet at the police station.

4. Apologize like your life depends on it

If caught on the wrong and you actually did commit an offence, begin apologising. Accept your mistake and assure them that you have learnt your lesson. Puppy dog eyes and a sweet melodious voice come in handy as well. By accepting your mistakes, you catch the cop off guard and they are less likely to be mean to you. (Tried and tested, it works)

5. Beware of the traffic laws

Remember those rules you learnt in driving school, know them by heart. Especially the common ones. Moreover, be conversant with common offences and the punishments that come with them. Basically, don’t be illiterate when it comes to the offences. By knowing this, the traffic cops cannot inflate your offense into something larger than it was. Kuwa mjanja in short.

After driving for a while, you become a pro at dealing with traffic cops. The one thing you should take home from this article is it serves no purpose arguing with traffic cops, they will make your life miserable.

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