“How to drive in India”

That’s the title of an amusing article at The Foreign Challenge.  Having visited India, I should say the best way to drive is to let someone else do it, while you close your eyes, pray very hard, and hope to survive!  However, if you can’t do that, the article has some useful information.  I’m here to tell you, it’s largely accurate.  Here’s an excerpt.

If you are planning to drive in India, then you can consider yourself as madman.

First of all it is best to forget your home countries traffic laws and rules. Indian traffic is nothing like any other traffic you ever meet. It is notoriously chaotic and a big mess where laws are written, but are never followed. Traffic makes it’s own unwritten rules that can really only be experienced. If you really are serious about driving in India then congratulations, this article is made for you.

. . .

Driving in India is same as driving in a zoo. Starting from cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, monkeys, camels and elephants. You can find cows almost every corner of the street. Since cows are respected at India hitting one of them can bring heavy fines and possibly jail. In our experience cows were the least dangerous and the most stable road users. You shouldn’t be afraid of them!

. . .

Having a safe distance? Just won’t work in India. It’s a country of 1.2 billion, which leaves no spare room. As soon as you leave a gap between yourself and the one in front of you, someone will more than likely break into the gap and cut you off.

Get ready to be surrounded on every direction and every inch of your vehicle by vehicles, animals and pedestrians who are cutting you off in every possible chance. Brakes are the only part of a vehicle that Indians respect. Believe me, when I say that your right foot will be constantly resting on the brake pedal.

Consider that not all of the vehicles have brake lights in working order, some do not even have them presented. It can be an headache, since they give you no warning, which gives you almost no time to react. So, do not expect someone to warn you, instead keep all your senses alert and when ever your foot is not on an accelerator, it should be on a brake.

There’s more at the link.

If you want proof . . .



  1. “…the best way to drive is to let someone else do it, while you close your eyes, pray very hard, and hope to survive!”

    I never made it to India, but that is the tactic I used in Thailand and other places. It’s best no to look.

  2. The closest I’ve come to death was in a cab in Boston MA. The driver made an illegal left turn with oncoming traffic onto a a one way street, going the wrong way. The oncoming Detroit land yacht stopped inches from the passenger door I was behind. If Indian traffic gets more sporty than that, I’ll pass.

  3. It reminds me of driving in Caracas but without the farm animals and on the right side of the road. It is a constant balancing act of showing superiority and pushing your way through versus how much you like your car.

    Which is why I drove a 1973 Landcruiser with the appropriate reinforcements 🙂

    PS: I recant the animal part. The people driving low CC motorcycles are worse than rampaging piranhas and have no fear attacking you.

  4. Spent a week in Bombay(Mumbai?) in 1984. Found a cabby the first day (Call me Louie!) and away we went! The cows were no big deal but the beggar with Leprosy that stuck her head in the window asking for alms did bother my buddy just a bit. It would appear that not much has changed in the intervening years. Drive in India? No thanks!

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