Travelling 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,
Most Indian road users observe a version of the Highway Code based
on a Sanskrit text. These 12 rules of the Indian road are published
for the first time in English.
The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.
Indian traffic, like Indian society,is structured on a strict caste system.
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.
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.
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 recognise", "There is a bird in the road (which at this speed
could go through my windscreen)" or "I have not blown my horn for
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 emphasised by the use of headlamps (insouciant).
Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence
in Article II above
All manoeuvres, use of horn and evasive action shall be left until
the last possible moment.
In the absence of seat belts (which there is), car occupants shall wear
garlands of marigolds. These should be kept fastened at all times.
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 ofRoundabouts: India has no
abouts. Apparent traffic islands in the
middle of crossroads have no traffic management function. Any other
impression should be ignored.
Overtaking is mandatory. Every moving vehicle is required to overtake
every other moving vehicle, irrespective of whether it has just
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.
Nirvana may be obtained through the head-on crash.
Reversing: no longer applicable since no vehicle in India has reverse gear.
The 10th incarnation of God was as an articulated tanker