Defensive driving for Indian road conditions: Do it right

There is a proverb in English which says “The best defence is a good offence”. But this is not true if you are driving on road, especially in India. Many drivers are still not aware of the proper rules and regulations and they would often break them. The cops have now become stricter though, and that is a definite improvement. but then there comes the issue of road rage incidents – and this seems to only be increasing.  The best way of avoiding all the drama, and the dangers, and reaching your destination safely is to drive defensively.

Defensive driving for Indian road conditions: Do it right

What is defensive driving?

Driving defensively is a way of driving which involves strategies and skills that can help you recognize the unexpected risk in advance and make a decision. What this does is help the driver to take a good decision and manage the vehicle in case of an emergency. A defensive driver consciously anticipates the unexpected. He expects the cyclist to suddenly serve into his way, cows to cross the median, the car in front to suddenly brake, and so on.

Defensive driving for Indian road conditions: Do it right

Always stay attentive

If you are someone who drives a lot then after some time you can get casual about this. Make sure that does not happen. Driving requires you to pay 100 percent attention at all times. There are many variable factors that can change anytime and the driver needs to be aware of all of them. Both hands should always be on the steering wheel. You should sit straight up and not slouch. If you think that the vehicle in the front is making unpredictable moves then you should slow down and increase the distance between it and your car.

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Follow the rules fully except when its a bigger danger due to others

Make sure that you follow all the traffic rules. Stop the vehicle at the stop line, and don’t speed up when you see the traffic light turn amber. Do not make an illegal U-turn, park the vehicle only where it is allowed etc. What all of this does is that you will not be breaking any rules – and normally no one will be getting angry at you. Sure, there are some who do when you do not act as they do, but mostly they leave you alone.

What is an exception to this? When others do not expect you to follow rules, and then you do, surprising them. Always try to communicate your intensions as early as possible. Tap the brakes so the driver behind knows you plan to slow down and brake at a signal and he gets ample time to do it too. Use the indicators early, so the tailgating driver behind you is not surprised.

Don’t tailgate  

Defensive driving for Indian road conditions: Do it right
Tailgating Causes Serious Rear End Collisions Across the U.S.

One of the biggest reasons that fender-bender accidents happen in our country is because people are not keeping a minimum distance between themselves and the vehicle ahead of them. What this does is reduce the reaction time significantly. Even if the driver does brake timely, the car would still need some distance to come to a halt. Ideally, the distance between two cars should be of a car length if you are driving in the city with speeds under 30 kmph. If you are in heavy traffic then you should be able to see the bottom of the bumper of the car that is going in front of you. In general, on highways, the bigger the gap you leave, the safer you are.

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Use the mirrors and don’t drive in the blindspot

Defensive driving for Indian road conditions: Do it right

Ensure that your vehicle is not in the blind spot of the other vehicles. You might be cautious enough to check your outside rearview mirrors and blind spot before changing a lane but not everyone does this. It is important that you keep checking your rearview mirrors. This will ensure that you are aware of the vehicles that are around you and could overtake you at any given moment. Moreover, you should always adjust the mirrors before you start driving. Also be aware that a two wheeler can enter your blind spot in just a second or two.

Stay visible

One small mistake that people make is not turning on their lights, turn indicators and parking lights. What this does is ensure that the other drivers on the road are aware of your presence. They must be able to see you so that they can take judge the distance between you and their vehicle. Moreover, if you are not visible then they might just straight-up crash into you.

Stay away from road rage

Situations on roads can get escalated very quickly. If you spot a drunk or upset driver, it is better to maintain distance. They might honk at you, make eye contact or do something inappropriate. It is important that you do not engage or react because that could make the situation even worse. What you can do is slow down so he drives away. Or take a turn into a familiar, alternative route and lose the road raging driver.

Paarth Khatri

Paarth's passion for cars started by collecting newspaper clippings when he was just a toddler. He is obsessed with cars and technology and can talk about them all day. He has an undying love for cars with a manual transmission and is always ready to drive anything with 2 or 4 wheels. Being an audiophile his dream car is Lexus LFA, considering it is the best sounding car ever made. He would happily burn the last gallon of petrol for a lap in the Ariel Atom 500. (Full bio)