Staying Safe on India’s Roads – A Traveler’s Guide
India’s roads can be challenging to navigate with the wide range of vehicles, people, and animals that share the roadways. As a visitor, you’ll want to take precautions to ensure a safe journey. Follow these tips for staying safe during your travels in India:
Drive defensively and expect the unexpected. Be prepared for other vehicles to swerve into your lane or pedestrians to walk out in traffic. Stay alert and ready to brake. Give yourself extra stopping distance between vehicles.
Honking is used liberally in India to indicate “I’m passing,” or “I’m coming through.” Don’t be shy about honking as you approach corners or intersections where your visibility is limited. But avoid long, angry honks which are considered rude.
Watch for Bikes
Motorbikes and scooters will be weaving all around you. Keep your eyes open and check your mirrors often before switching lanes. Remember that bikes have the right to share the road too.
Yield to Cows
In urban and rural areas alike, be on the lookout for cows wandering into the roadway. These sacred animals always have the right of way, so be prepared to stop and yield to passing cattle.
Stay Alert at Intersections
Traffic lights and signs are often treated as mere suggestions in India. Drivers may blow through red lights or drive against traffic on one-way streets. Proceed cautiously through intersections until you can confirm cross traffic is stopping.
Avoid Driving at Night
Roads are notoriously unsafe at night when visibility is poor and drunk driving increases. If you must drive at night, stick to well-lit major highways and be extra vigilant.
Leave Extra Time
With congested urban roads and variable road conditions in rural areas, getting around always takes longer in India. Build plenty of extra time into your itinerary.
Obey Traffic Officers
Traffic police can provide guidance and prevent chaos at busy intersections. Obey their signals and pull over promptly if flagged down.
Keep Your Cool
Rules and driving habits may seem chaotic to a visitor, but avoid making frustrated gestures at other drivers. Stay calm and focus on your own safe maneuvering.
Driving in India can be an adventure. Following these tips will help you get to your destination safely. Remember to stay alert, allow extra time, and expect the unexpected. Through defensive driving and patience, you can master India’s roads like a pro.