The dashed and solid yellow lines that sometimes appear down the center of the roads here in Kenya are deceitfully simple. Driving to Mombasa, I constantly ran through a complicated algorithm of factors that must be processed before attempting to pass a vehicle on the highway. My thoughts went something like this:
Hmm, that truck up there is going very slow in front of me (it could be going anywhere from 10 mph to 50 mph depending on its load and the incline of the road). The billowing black exhaust pouring from its muffler has good potential to make one of my daughters carsick if we are stuck behind this truck for a while. Can I pass the truck? Well, I do see a bus coming toward me in the other lane, but it is still quite far off, so I think I could make it around this truck if it is a school bus (which would travel at 50 mph), but not if it is a public bus (which would travel at 70 mph). It looks like a school bus. OK, now are there any potholes in the passing lane that would destroy our van’s suspension? No. Ok, are there any potholes in this lane that would cause the truck ahead to swerve into my passing lane? No. Are there any cars (which can travel at 70-90 mph) passing the bus up ahead which would make this endeavor tight, or any cars coming from behind me which would sideswipe me when I pull out? I don’t think so. Are there any motorcycles in the oncoming lane? If so, is there a shoulder present, and could the motorcycle just drive on the shoulder while I am passing? Our van is pretty loaded down. Can I accelerate fast enough to pass this truck on a mild incline? If I don’t do it now, I have to slow way down and then it will take a long time to gain momentum again. Is the road really wide enough right here to handle passing traffic? Yes. Any curves in the road to block my vision? No. Any police checks ahead, where they lay metal spikes across the road forcing only 1 vehicle to pass at a time? No. OK, it looks like we’ll try this one.
So I pull out, only to realize I forgot to look to the side of the road where there is a herd of livestock, and one cow looks like it is going to make a break for it. So I slow back down and crouch behind the lumbering truck to await my next opportunity.
All this lurching around can be quite perilous for those who get carsick.