wikiHow to Drive in India

Metros in India are extremely congested and the drivers can appear to be rough in their approach towards beating the traffic. In Delhi alone there are 2 million vehicles. The roads also play a part in making driving difficult. This article will give you tips for driving safely in India.


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    Understand that India, just like the UK, has a right hand/left side drive. If you are from the US/continental Europe (or countries in which cars have a left-hand drive), this can be confusing for you, initially.
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    Be careful while driving in any city. India is no exception.
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    Stay alert at all times. In most Indian cities, though there are lanes, people don't use them and may cut in front of you without warning. Animals or children may come in your way. Whenever your foot is not on the accelerator, it should be resting on the brake.
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    Acknowledge that insurance in India has various clauses in it such as depreciation charge on metal and plastic. So please read your insurance completely and understand it well. Remember that third party claims are rare in India and in most cases would need a copy of Police FIR. Avoid accidents at all costs.
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    Be aware that it is not uncommon to find drunk drivers after 10 PM, so be extra careful at nights. Do not tailgate any driver at a speed higher than 30 kilometers (19 mi), if possible avoid it completely. People can turn without signaling or without switching on the indicator.
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    Remember that there are all sorts of vehicles on Indian roads such as bullock carts, cycles, rickshaws, three-wheelers, cars, SUVs, trucks, buses, etc. There are no separate lanes for slower moving vehicles so be prepared to drive slowly using brakes very often. There are hardly any automatic transmission vehicles in India so be prepared for a manual transmission. If you rent a stickshift but are used to an automatic then ensure that its clutch pedal is light else you will end up building a stronger calf muscle.
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    Learn that a marriage party, minister or religious processions are regular and can hold up traffic. Don't be shy in taking alternative routes in such situations, like driving on the side unpaved road (if it's there) or cutting the traffic like others.
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    When driving to a small town or rural village, roads will be too narrow for two lanes. Therefore, traffic coming in the other direction will have to travel on the same path as you. When a car is coming towards you, move to the LEFT so that you are only taking up half the road. It's ok if the left side of your car isn't on the road anymore. The guy coming towards you will do the same thing on his left side. After you have passed each other, come back onto the road.
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    While driving on wide roads, for example OMR, ECR in Chennai, be alert. Many smaller vehicles come on the wrong side of the road.
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    In many places in India comercial vehicles, such as trucks and buses, will have signs that read "Sound Horn". This means that if you honk they will move over slightly so that you may pass. Honk only once and do it politely, if they do not move simply stay behind them. Although they may move to the side, make sure to check for oncoming traffic before you pass.
    • When honking, make sure you are not in a quiet zone (generally around hospitals) as this is illegal and very disrupting to hospital patients.
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    Remember that in case of an accident, if the situation gets out of hand then call the cops immediately. This will save you from getting a beating from the public. In case of an accident public involvement will surely happen and the guy with a smaller vehicle will get the sympathy. Avoid any such pandemonium and try to settle things quickly.


  • Keep all your car related papers such as registration, insurance and driver's license with you while driving.
  • Remember Patience is the key to drive here. You will often find your blood boiling when somebody cuts your way but its just the way it is.
  • Make sure your brakes are working all the time.
  • Always be calm and never engage into Road Rage as it may hurt you.
  • Always give way for aggressive drivers as you don't want to be bothered continuously.
  • Honking is not a bad thing and people do this to express all sorts of feelings or to keep animals from coming in their way. Use the horn generously.
  • Visit http:/ / for a comprehensive review of defensive driving techniques.
  • Keep your vehicle in good running condition all the time.
  • Tires play a great role while turning and breaking speed so please ensure that they are in shape and have anti-skid features.
  • Make sure your horn and lights work. As they are the Airbags and ABS on crowded streets like those of Mumbai.
  • Best way to learn how to drive in India is to follow one of the taxi drivers. They have mastered the art of driving on pure instinct.
  • In India a proper lane system exists only in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, Expressways and National Highways. Always try to move in the centermost lanes if not on the before mentioned roads, else follow the lane system.
  • Always be extra careful on Indian roads especially on metros like Bangalore.


  • Some of the red lights may not work at odd hours, be careful when approaching such a crossroad
  • Always look on both sides while turning, it is not uncommon to find drivers on the wrong side of the road
  • Accidents are to be avoided at all costs as they may result in violence against the at-fault party by onlookers who typically gather at such occurrences. One must also be prepared for the possibility of making a cash settlement at the scene of the accident and/or paying the police should they be summoned to the accident.
  • Drivers sometimes honk their horns continuously while driving. It is not uncommon that drivers of auto-rickshaws will "play chicken" with oncoming traffic while honking their horns, only veering off to avoid a head-on collision at the last possible moment. For that reason alone, driving in India is best left to local drivers who are familiar with these sorts of driving conditions.
  • Do not blindly follow the person in front of you, as you might also be violating the traffic rules along with him.
  • You may often see drivers breaking traffic rules (e.g. jumping red lights). DO NOT be tempted to follow their example - not only is it highly dangerous, but traffic police officers (especially in Delhi) are on the lookout for violators. Additionally, some traffic lights are now equipped with cameras to catch red-light jumpers.
  • Above all else, use your instincts. Before conducting any movement with a vehicle check the area yourself. Regardless if a light signal is green check the intersection as if it was uncontrolled. Traffic is extremely uncontrolled in India, and many weave through regardless of the rules. Pay attention at all times.

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Categories: Country Specific | India