Traffic Culture – Idiots Guide to Driving in India

Here is a small guide to the road traffic culture in India. For the uninitiated, this is a simple guide to keep in mind not while, but before driving in India. Though this holds true in most cities,there could be that odd exception where its worse. The list is not comprehensive but should give you a fair idea.However,the reader is encouraged to check out the validity while being seated next to a regular Indian driver.Do not try this on your own.

Before you start :

  • First up is get insured. Your car, you, your family.Period.
  • Expect a scratch on car within the first 3 months of purchase.
  • Scratch could be done by a key chain from a delinquent juvenile,ignorant fool,or skidding two wheeler.

In Traffic.

  • Most cars will cross stop line.
  • Advance your vehicle to every available inch in front of you,or side of you.
  • Expect cars to accelerate when light is changing to Orange.
  • Most bikers will touch/scratch/thud your side view mirror.
  • Some will bump in the rear and then look away.
  • Some will argue as if it was your fault.
  • Expect hawkers to walk up and sell chargers and shades.
  • Expect eunuchs to open the door if you do not give money.Central Lock at all times.
  • Expect local busses to stop in the middle of the road.

Horny People.

  • Expect people to honk when you stop for a red signal.
  • Expect people to honk in a bumper to bumper traffic.
  • Expect people to honk just like that.
  • Expect a loud reverse alarm.And people still don’t move.
  • Some will yell if horn is broken.
  • Some will flash headlights.

Night Drive.

  • Expect full beam head on even inside lanes,and by lanes.
  • Expect extra lights in SUVs at full beam.
  • Expect people and animals to cross roads nonchalantly.
  • More so if it is raining heavily.
  • Some luxury busses overestimate their vehicles breadth.
  • They will not move an inch if you are coming from the opposite direction.
  • Or if you want to over take, you almost need to be 3/4th down the wrong side.
  • There will not be a day when you don’t see an ambulance stuck in traffic.

Highway Drive.

  • Most trucks do road hogging.
  • They cannot hear you honk.
  • They cant see you flash headlights.
  • You overtake from the left if there is space.
  • You overtake from  right if your car can quickly accelerate.
  • Expect a zooming SUV honking right behind you like a raving lunatic.
  • Expect constant traffic from the opposite direction.
  • Avoid two lane highways in the night.
  • Stick to National Highways during the day.


  • Say your prayers if your vehicle touches a pedestrian even by a  millimetre.
  • Expect a crowd gathering immediately.
  • Expect a local hoodlum takes charge as the messiah.
  • Extorts obscene amount of money and medical treatment.
  • Expect cops to play along.
  • Going to a police station is a 50/50 option.May or may not work.
  • If the pedestrian or vehicle hits your car, it still is your mistake.Always.
  • Expect the aggressor to counter argue and show rage.
  • Almost everybody knows somebody up the food chain.


  • Give valet at your own risk, really.
  • Most places do not have a parking slot available.
  • The parking vendor will ask money without a ticket. Insist on it.
  • If you need to get out urgently, it wont happen.Period.
  • Expect to go at least 3 or 4 rounds before you get the slot.
  • Expect to change your destination for lack of parking.

Having said that,not all places are the same.Its okay to know that the above can happen, but it is also important to realise that it is not necessary in all cases. Like I said before,this is not a comprehensive list by any means,but it should give you an idea.

Its a nightmare for people managing traffic.So I do not blame them completely. Any country with such a high density population does not have a proper traffic management system.And India is no different.Its easy to apply rules when the sum total vehicles in your state are less then a 100,000 – In India 100,000 could be a number in a small city.

Jokes aside, with such a huge population,and more importantly a huge dispensable income population, the vehicle boom is bound to happen. Regulations, rules,roads and discipline is catching up. Accountability and civic sense is catching up slowly.It will take time but we are in the right direction.

Drive safe.




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