Road Rules in India-A Guide

Note: The following item was extracted from travel section of UK daily newspaper.


Traveling in India is an almost hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rending, sometimes hilarious, mostly exhilarating, always unforgettable – and, when you are on the roads, extremely dangerous.

Most Indian road users observe a version of the Highway Code based on an ancient text. These 12 rules of the Indian road are published for the first time in English.

ARTICLE I
The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.

ARTICLE II
The following precedence must be accorded at all times. In descending order, give way to: cows, elephants, heavy trucks, buses, official cars, camels, light trucks, buffalo, Jeeps, ox-carts, private cars, motorcycles,scooters, auto-rickshaws, pigs, pedal rickshaws, goats, bicycles (goods- carrying), handcarts, bicycles (passenger-carrying), dogs, pedestrians.

ARTICLE III
All wheeled vehicles shall be driven in accordance with the maxim:to slow is to falter, to brake is to fail, to stop is defeat.
This is the Indian drivers’ mantra.

ARTICLE IV
Use of horn (also known as the sonic fender or aural amulet): Cars (IV,1,a-c): Short blasts (urgent) indicate supremacy, ie in clearing dogs, rickshaws and pedestrians from path. Long blasts (desperate) denote supplication, ie to oncoming truck, “I am going too fast to stop, so unless you slow down we shall both die”.

In extreme cases this may be accompanied by flashing of headlights (frantic). Single blast (casual) means “I have seen someone out of India’s 870 million whom I recognize”, “There is a bird in the road (which at this speed could go through my windscreen)” or “I have not blown my horn for several minutes.”

Trucks and buses (IV,2,a): All horn signals have the same meaning, viz, “I have an all-up weight of approximately 12.5 tons and have no intention of stopping, even if I could.”

This signal may be emphasized by the use of headlamps (insouciant). Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in Article II above

ARTICLE V
All manoeuvres, use of horn and evasive action shall be left until the last possible moment.

ARTICLE VI
In the absence of seat belts (which there is), car occupants shall wear garlands of marigolds. These should be kept fastened at all times.

ARTICLE VII
Rights of way: Traffic entering a road from the left has priority. So has traffic from the right, and also traffic in the middle. Lane discipline (VII,1): All Indian traffic at all times and irrespective of direction of travel shall occupy the centre of the road.

ARTICLE VIII
Roundabouts: India has no roundabouts. Apparent traffic islands in the middle of crossroads have no traffic management function. Any other impression should be ignored.

ARTICLE IX
Overtaking is mandatory. Every moving vehicle is required to overtake every other moving vehicle, irrespective of whether it has just overtaken you.Overtaking should only be undertaken in suitable conditions, such as in the face of oncoming traffic, on blind bends, at junctions and in the middle of villages/city centres. No more than two inches should be allowed between your vehicle and the one you are passing – and one inch in the case of bicycles or pedestrians.

ARTICLE X
Nirvana may be obtained through the head-on crash.

ARTICLE XI
Reversing: no longer applicable since no vehicle in India has reverse gear.

ARTICLE XII
The 10th incarnation of God was as an articulated tanker

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12 Responses to Road Rules in India-A Guide

  1. Well you will find everything on the roads of India. From people to machines and even animals, it can be a traffic nightmare at times, but then that’s how this country rolls! πŸ™‚

  2. Nafees says:

    Indian traffic rules mean no rules πŸ˜€ Heavy traffic always

  3. Hahaha too funny and so true!

    • Jane says:

      yes it is! I remember the first time I road on the roads in India it was a nightmare. But it didn’t take long to realize how much expertise the Indian drivers have on the road, and I am no longer afraid. πŸ™‚

  4. sspost says:

    haha…nice one..! I concur…In India we say that – if u can drive in India u can drive anywhere in the world….

    • Jane says:

      for sure….didn’t realize when I posted on your blog that you had already been here, on the India Journal….hope you will explore further. Lots of photos. Where are you originally from in India?

      • sspost says:

        I am from Bangalore (now Bengaluru) in the South..! about 6 years back I used to drive these articles that u mentioned here in my scooter πŸ™‚ …it was fun reading this one…
        take care…looking forward for more…!

  5. Jane says:

    many years ago I spent 5 weeks in Chennai riding around on the back of a friend’s scooter/bike! If you can do that, you can do anything, believe me! Hope you will find some nice new stories as I get back to India next week, although usually my life is fairly quiet and unexciting. BUt you never know in India! Saab Kuch Milega! πŸ˜€

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