With the increasing amount of traffic on Indian roads and more congestion, you have to share road space with all kinds of people. And, as is common knowledge, frustration and road rage incidents are rampant.
We’re not really going to get all preachy and all, but there are ways you could do your bit to be a better driver, a well-mannered driver, and in some way earn some good car karma! If every driver did their bit, driving on Indian roads. The basics of always wearing a seat belt and not talking on the phone are assumed.
Here are 10 habits of good Indian drivers:
Image: Bangalore traffic police “no honking” hoarding
In India, most believe the horn is connected to the accelerator pedal. Incessantly using the horn it seems would automatically make your car go faster and other traffic disappear. Be courteous, go easy on the horn. It’s a warning device not a warring device! Use it judiciously to just warn people, cattle, dogs, and oblivious drivers of your presence. A single occasional toot would do, thank you.
No high beam
Again in India, light is might. The more you have the merrier. High beam, low beam, fog lights, auxillary lights, roof-mounted lights all set to blind oncoming traffic and even obliterate traffic ahead of you like they were some kind of lasers. Be courteous, drive on low beam only, unless on a dark stretch of road. Avoid blinding oncoming traffic and if you are following another car as well, drive on low beam to avoid dazzling him through his mirrors. Also read: Tips for driving at night in India
Use the mirrors
Speaking of mirrors, most cars come with three – one internal and two outside mirrors. These mirrors are there for a purpose. Use them. Many drivers prefer driving with outside mirrors folded making them blind to traffic that’s about to pass them. And more often than not, such drivers blindly change lanes obstructing the path of the car about to pass them.
While on the subject of lanes, the less said the better. Those white markings on the road on which the government spends crores of rupees are there for a purpose. Pick a lane and stick to it, don’t straddle two lanes, don’t zig-zag randomly between lanes like it were some kind of video game. If you have to change lanes do so early, moving to the right lane to turn right, or to the left lane to turn left.
Use your indicators
Use your indicators to ensure the driver behind you knows your intentions well in advance. These days most cars come with lane-change indicators, where a half tap on the indicator stalk would give three flashes of the indicator. Use these to change lanes when you have to.
Stop at the stop line
Almost all well-laid out roads have stop lines at the traffic signals. These have been scientifically laid out for a purpose. Drive in your lane and stop at the stop line, not over it or beyond it. Usually there’s a pedestrian crossing beyond it. Pedestrians get right of way.
A big worry for most drivers in India is that someone would squeeze into the gap between you and the car ahead of you. Hence most drivers tend to “tailgate” the driver ahead of them – which means they drive too close to the car ahead, leaving very little time to react in an emergency, often ending up in multiple-car bumper-to-bumper pile ups. Drive with a safe distance between cars, usually one-car’s length gap at city speeds, increasing it further on the highway. When you stop behind another driver, ensure you can see the bottom of the bumper of the car ahead of you – which means you usually have about 5 feet of space.
Leave the right lane free
On the highway, most drivers tend to hog the right-most lane, the lane closest to the road divider, in a bid to keep going faster. However, there may be cars faster than you, so do give way. Use the right lane only for overtaking and then settle back in the centre lane, leaving the left-most lane on six-lane roads for trucks. On a four-lane, depending on the traffic density, move back to the left once you are done overtaking. Also read: 10 tips to survive Indian highways
Say thanks and sorry
A simple courtesy of saying thank you goes a long way. On the highway, when you overtake a truck, give a flash of your indicator or a small toot on the horn to say thank you. If you do this in the hills especially, you more often than not will hear a reciprocating “you are welcome” toot from the trucker. Be patient and wait for the truck or bus ahead of you to signal that it’s clear to overtake. In case you inadvertently end up cutting someone off because of a badly planned overtaking manoeuvre, raise your hand to apologize.
Smile & relax
Lastly, always start early for a relaxed drive. Learn to smile, even in peak hour traffic. It takes a lot of the stress out of driving. Follow all the above rules and keep smiling. Slowly, if you stick to your good driving habits you will see it rub off on fellow drivers making the roads a nicer place to be.
Also read: Driving tips for slow moving traffic
Also read: Bangalore traffic – a survival guide!