Rules of the Indian Road
Rules Of The Road, Indian Style
Traveling on Indian Roads 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 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:
All wheeled vehicles shall be driven in accordance with the maxim: to
is to falter, to brake is to fail, to stop is defeat. This is the
Use of horn (also known as the sonic fender or aural amulet):
1.Short blasts (urgent) indicate supremacy, IE in clearing dogs,
and pedestrians from path.
2.Long blasts (desperate) denote supplication, IE to oncoming truck: "I
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
3.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
approximately 12.5 tons and have no intention of stopping, even if I
could." This signal may be emphasised by the use of headlamps.
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.
1.Rights of way: Traffic entering a road from the left has priority. So
has traffic from the right, and also traffic in the middle.
2.Lane discipline (VII,1): All Indian traffic at all times and
irrespective of direction of travel shall occupy the centre of the
Roundabouts: India has no roundabouts. 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
between your vehicle and the one you are passing- and one inch in the
of bicycles or pedestrians.
Nirvana may be obtained through the head-on crash.
Reversing: no longer applicable since no driver in India knows that
his vehicle has reverse gear.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]