India’s has the world’s highest number of road deaths and most of these deaths happen on the country’s highways, notorious for poor driving conditions and stupid drivers. So, driving on Indian highways can be very treacherous. Here are 10 golden rules you MUST follow if you want stay alive, and enjoy highway drives.
A well maintained car is a must
Before hitting the highway, make sure that the car you’re driving is in top condition. Be it the brakes, tyres or the engine, every part of the car must be at an optimum condition. You don’t want the brakes failing or the tyres bursting at high speed, nor do you want the steering system acting up. These parts almost never go wrong on a well maintained car. On poorly maintained cars, these parts fail commonly, causing road deaths.
This is one of the simplest thing that’s overlooked by most drivers. You HAVE to maintain a separation of 4 seconds from the vehicle in front of you. What this means is, if a car ahead passes a tree, make sure that you pass the same tree four seconds later. Through this strategy, you’re maintaining a 4 second distance between your car and the vehicle ahead. These 4 seconds can save your life in case the vehicle ahead decides to brake/swerve suddenly or meets with an accident. The 4 seconds will give you enough time to react and avoid the vehicle ahead.
Keep all mirrors open, and functional
Wing mirrors and the inner rear view mirror exist for a reason. They help you see what’s going on behind you, and stay alert at all times. Keeping the wing mirrors closed is the stupidest thing you can do on the highway, yet a lot of people continue to drive with their car’s mirrors folded.
Never, ever overtake at a blind spot
Overtaking at blind spots is a leading cause of highway accidents. Yet, people continue to overtake recklessly. If you can’t see what’s ahead of you, you’re just playing your luck. And luck doesn’t favour the foolhardy. It’s simple. Just don’t overtake if you can’t see a clear road ahead.
Indicate while overtaking
It’s not enough to just have a clear road ahead to overtake, you also need to make sure that the the vehicle you’re overtaking knows your intention. A couple of quick dabs on the horn in daytime and flashing the high beam during the night will indicate that you’re overtaking. This will prevent the vehicle you’re overtaking from accidentally swerving into your path.
Tyre pressures are vital
Highway driving means high speeds. High speeds mean high tyre temperature. High temperature can kill under inflated tyres and cause a tyre burst. Overinflated tyres have a bunch of issues of their own, which can cause loss of control to even tyre-bursts if things go really wrong. Keeping the tyres inflated to the right pressure is absolutely critical.
And so is maintaining the right speed
Driving at 150 KMPH on a hot concrete road such as the Yamuna expressway is arking for trouble, even IF you have correctly inflated tyres. For the most enjoyable highway drives, 80-100 KMPH is not just the legal speed limits on many highways but is also the safest and most hassle free speed to drive. At this speed, you’ll have enough time to react when faced with an emergency maneuver, and also such speeds will allow for smooth overtaking. You’ll blend into the highway rather than having to aggressively overtake every 2 minutes.
Never drive while fatigued
Fatigue kills. And behind the wheel fatigue sets in quickly. Taking periodic breaks, once every 100-150 Kms is vital for alert driving. Also, never drive when you feel drowsy/sleepy. Generally 8-10 hours of driving is what most people will be able to cope with comfortably. Find a place to rest for the night if you have to drive further.
Daytime driving is safer
Talking nights, driving during the day is much better even though it means you have to encounter more traffic. Driving during the day offers great visibility and there are a lot of hazards you may miss while driving during the night. And such hazards can kill you. No headlamps can replace the power of the sun.
NEVER drive fast on the left lane
On a lot of expressways, the middle and fast lanes are occupied by slow-moving trucks. The temptation to avoid these trucks entirely and speed on the left-most lane is high for car drivers. Don’t do it. The left lane is a place where all kinds of vehicles break down, and all kinds of slow moving traffic are found. There have been a spate of incidents involving cars running into stationary trucks, tractors, etc. Never drive fast on the left lane.