Driving In India

In India, a country of over 1.3 billion people, road discipline is ‘the other guy’s responsibility’. Road discipline here needs one to look both ways when crossing a one-way street and escape stampeding bulls and snarling dogs as much as roaring engines and charging cars.

An amber traffic light means ‘floor the accelerator’, and a green means ‘pause in the middle of the crossing to contemplate which way to go’. Crashes are almost always blamed on ‘over-speeding’, and roads are not designed to accommodate the needs of the users.

In such a scenario, it takes some special skills to drive and navigate from point A to point B without harming oneself or one’s car, when almost every other road user is fatalistically dependent on divine intervention to keep them alive.

Alertness and anticipation are the keys to survival, and distraction for a second or two can lead to disaster. The stress is high though the speeds are not, and the responsibility of being safe is not based on just following road rules. ‘Right of way’ is not to be expected, and ‘wrong way’ is just another direction to drive.

Shamindra Sengupta
Road Safety Trainer

Day Driving

During the day all roads are super busy especially in the heavily populated regions like Kerala, Uttar Pradesh West Bengal etc.
Be careful of the road junctions on highways as slow traffic suddenly joins – or even worse crosses – the fast highway traffic.

Expect all kinds of vehicles from cycles to push carts to animal pulled carts to tractors to Tuk-Tuk to cars to heavy trucks.

Overladen tractors with agricultural produce being ferried on highways is common and needs to be taken cautiously as many times the sight of oncoming traffic is blocked by billowing load. Trucks with overhanging iron rods or such are also common.

Indian drivers rely a lot on loud honking instead of brakes and driving modulation. Beware.

Night Driving

The good thing about night driving is that much of the small and slow traffic is not on the roads after nine or ten o’clock.

Glaring headlights with full beams or even extra LED strips is norm and can be very “blinding”.

Stray domesticated animals  like cow and black buffalo like to rest on warm roads during the cold months. The combination of two – glare and big animal – can be disaster of you are not careful.

While majority of trucking professionals and disciplined drivers many are driving under fatigue and sleep deprivation (look who is talking).

Watch out and stay alert of waving trucks with driver dozes behind the wheel. Even more so when you are not on divided roads.

Endless Hazards

We will try and list few of the hazards that you need to watch out for while driving on Indian roads:

  • Wrong side driving. This deserves an article all of its own. But beware on others not only using wrong side of divided highways but doing so in the fast lane too!!!
  • Pedestrian crossing. Zebra crossings are considered ornamental. Always anticipate people – especially children – to run across the road anywhere. And without looking to check the traffic.
  • Many roadside tea stalls are good for taking a quick nap but also a traffic hazard with driver or crew of truck intent on crossing the road appearing from behind a parked vehicle.