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Driving in India

Traffic jam in Delhi

India, like other countries of the region, which were once British colonies, drives on the left-hand side of the road.

Traffic in Delhi, and other urban areas, is exceptionally crowded, congested, and chaotic, particularly, during the rush hour. Traffic rules are not respected and the style of driving is quite aggressive, with most vehicles fighting for, and squeezing into, often non-existing, spaces.

Taxis, tuk-tuks, and rickshaws stop anywhere they find passengers; and pick them up right in the middle of congested traffic. The way they stop or start moving without any warning creates dangerous situations for other drivers.

Mopeds, in particular, weave in and out of their lanes unpredictably. Helmets are rarely worn by riders and they often exceed the number of passengers or the load that is permitted, or sensible. It is normal to see a whole family that includes small children travel on one moped, or come across one carrying incredibly oversized items.

The problem of overloading is also quite frequent in lorries (trucks) that go to ridiculous extremes to carry as much as is physically, and dangerously, possible.

Driving perils in India

Another problem comes from cows (and other large animals, as well as pedestrians) wondering in the middle of the road. They are sacred animals in India and an accident involving them will often lead to trouble by drawing an aggressive crowd. If you happen to hit a cow, find the owner as soon as possible and pay whatever he claims to be the value of the animal, or call the police for protection, although you will probably be fined.

Accidents, however slight, are widespread, and western foreigners who cannot speak the local languages are often made to pay for accidents, which they did not cause. Irregular police fines and other illegal demands are often reported. Besides, the locals will tend to side with the smallest vehicle. In fact, if you get involved in any type of accident it is advisable that you settle the dispute immediately, and directly with the other driver, to avoid the approach and wrath of a partisan mob

A solution to avoid the traffic problems is to rent a car with a personal driver, which is a highly recommended option as the prices for this service are quite reasonable.

Before you consider driving in India, remember that the country has the world record in the number of deaths caused by road accidents.