8 Common Myths about Traffic Rules in India
Indian traffic sense or the lack of it has been the source of many social media memes and funny cartoons. Jokes aside, the sad fact is that India ranks very high in traffic accidents and fatalities resulting from those. In fact, the Indian Road Congress estimates that there is one fatality on our roads every four minutes! In many instances, these accidents could be avoided if the right rules had been followed.
The U.N. has declared 2011 – 2020 as the â€œDecade of Action for Road Safety”. Â It is our belief that education and enforcement of traffic rules are the two key factors in ensuring road safety. We list below a few of the common myths about traffic rules in India and enlighten the reader on the right way to follow them.
Lights at Night: At night, when traffic has dwindled, the traffic police might switch off the signals in many intersections which means proceed with caution but no need to stop. But at busy intersections, where the traffic lights are operational, it is indeed important to obey those. There might also be partially operational signals where Red or Yellow Lights may be flashing. Flasing Red means Stop, Look and Proceed. Flashing Yellow means Slow down, look and proceed. Accidents at night are more common and these could be avoided by always obeying these simple rules.
Driving on a One-Way Street: It might seem like no one really understands the very concept of one-way street in India, especially the two-wheelers and auto rickshaws. But a really funny misconception about one-way street is that it is OK to reverse in the wrong direction on a one-way street. It is indeed absolutely wrong to do so.Â Reversing the vehicle in a wrong direction in a one-lane street is prohibited for the simple reason that what matters in a one-way street is the direction of traffic flow rather than the direction the vehicle is facing.
Overtaking on the right: Indian traffic rules require the driver to drive on the left-side of the road. This means that over-taking is permitted only on the right. However, this is not allowed if the driver in front has indicated an intention to turn to the right. In such an instance, the vehicle at the back, is allowed to over-take from the left, if Â there is sufficient space to do so. It is important to indicate turns at all times and equally important to note the indications of the other drivers on the road and take appropriate action. It is not always right to overtake on the right.
Parking: Parking anywhere and everywhere is the norm in India, as long as there is no tow vehicle in sight. However, it is important to note that certain places are No Parking zones at all times, whether there is a Tow Away Zone sign or not.Â DO NOT PARK near or at any road crossing, on a walking footpath or on the hill top, near pedestrian crossing or traffic light, road having heavy traffic or on a main road, opposite or in the front of another vehicle parked to cause any obstruction, on white line roads, near hospital entrance, school or bus stop, next to the traffic signal, at any buildings entrance, where it is restricted to park.
Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt saves your life. It is a myth that you don’t need to wear a seat belt if you are only going for a short drive or you are only driving in the inner roads and not on the main roads. The reality is that accidents can happen anywhere and it is required for you to wear the seat belt, if you are driving/riding in the front seat of the car, at all times. Seat belts prevent death in over 50% of road accidents.
Drinking & Driving: The legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) or blood alcohol concentration is 0.03% or 30mg per 100ml of blood. This means that an average sized adult is well over the drinking limit by his/her second drink. A lot of people in India believe that consuming food with/after drinking makes them miraculously sober. It is true that food in the stomach reduces alcohol absorption rate in the blood, it only decreases it by 10-20% which means even after food, you are likely quite impaired to drive. Do not Drink & Drive – even if you have had food!
High Beam Usage: When is it OK to use high beam headlights on roads? High beams allow you to see farther than low beam headlights. So it is necessary to use beams if you are driving in unlit highways at night or dark rural area roads, when there might be cyclists or pedestrians on dark city streets. But using high beams in a crowded area will end up blinding oncoming traffic and even possibly the car in front for they can see your lights on their rear-view mirror. It is important to dim your lights when there are oncoming vehicles, or when you are driving closely behind another.
Mobile Phone Usage: The law on cell phone usage while driving is clear – it is forbidden to use a mobile while driving whether for talking or texting. But many argue that using a hands-free device is quite safe and should be permitted while driving. If it is OK to talk to the co-passengers while driving, then it should be OK to talk using a headset, argue some people. But wearing a headphone blocks out all other noises including horns and sounds of passing vehicles, which could be dangerous. The driver is unarguably more distracted by wearing a headset than if he were listening to music from the car’s stereo.