Driving in India

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Driving in India

Traveling in India is an almost hallucinatory mixture of sound and sight. 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 some ancient text or on the position of the moon. In general the 12 rules of the Indian road code are:

ARTICLE I

The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.

ARTICLE II

The following Order of 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 carrying goods, handcarts, bicycles carrying passenger(s), 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:
Cars (IV, 1, a-c): Short blasts indicate supremacy, i.e. in clearing dogs, rickshaws and pedestrians from path. Long blasts denote supplication, i.e. 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. Single casual blast means "I have seen someone out of India's 870 million people 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, "I have a gross weight of 12.5 tons and have no intention of stopping, even if I could." This signal may be emphasized by the use of headlights.

Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in Article II above.

ARTICLE V

All...
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