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Old 26th August 2009, 13:51   #1
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Default Road Etiquette : How not to drive !!

Everyday as I drive to work, my thoughts invariably wander back to a very basic issue on Indian roads, that of appalling road etiquette.

I wonder if the issue is one of people being ignorant or of knowing how to behave but opting not to for reasons bests known to them.

I'll list a few things I notice and we can add on as we go along

Lane discipline

People don't seem to respect other's right of way when driving along a lane. Regardless of what form of transport they are in, everyone wants to cut across your lane, without your permission. Its almost like they think its their right to cut across without due notice to you.

This behaviour is outright discourteous and quite unacceptable in civilised countries

If a person wishes to cross someone in a lane, the appropriate thing to do is to indicate and wait till one is allowed to move in ahead.

Red Lights

I can understand a faulty signal which stays stuck in red and people move across. But when you have functional signals people crossing into the intersection despite a red signal are engaging in behavior which at best can be desribed as reckless.

Driving on High Beam lights regardless of oncoming traffic

It is outright uncomfortable for oncoming traffic to encounter a oncoming vehicle drivign at full beam. On roads where traffic moves at speeds its actually unsafe as you can cause the oncoming traffic to lose control on account of blinding lights.

It is discourteous to drive on high beam where you have oncoming traffic. Even on a divided four lane road high beam driving distracts others

Right of way at roundabouts

Technically when you arrive at a roundabout and notice traffic already in the circle you must concede the right of way to those already in and wait for your turn to enter when the traffic is clear.

On the contary I notice people diving straight into a roundabout, almost bulldozing their way across. This is rude behaviour and only proves you lack civic sense

The use of horns

World over a horn has come to be used usually to express displeasure at other people's inappropriate road behaviour

Need I say anything on how its used here in India?

We need to create more awareness about these issues as even educated people seem to err on these accounts. Perhaps its just a case of most people not knowing how to behave on the road. Sadly there are many who behave in a discourteous manner despite knowing the effect of their behavior

Last edited by DKG : 26th August 2009 at 13:54.
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Old 26th August 2009, 13:58   #2
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DKG, nicely put together on how people drive. Invariably you will find each of this happening to you everyday. Reading your post, reminded me of at least 2 incidents that happened to me last evening during my drive back to home from work, one a santro cutting across into my lane in a bumper to bumper traffic and squeezing me so that I apply brakes; and two people driving on highbeams along with fog lamps.

Unfortunately, it would take a lot of effort and stricter norms from RTO, traffic police to drive some sense into people.
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Old 26th August 2009, 14:01   #3
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A lot of people have no idea about the way they drive.

I had an experience with a slightly older gentleman in a Red Wagon R, who cut me off.
We were at the Jubilee Hills signal, He was beside me and in the extreme left lane.
Of course both of us wanted to go straight.
Since I did not let him cut in front of me, he cut me of in a rather nasty way as soon as he could from the right.

Pissed, I wait my chance and decide to cut him off and give a finger.
As I cut him off now, I realize for the first time that he is much older (about 50+).
Wearing a tie and all that.

Does not even realize I am cutting him off.
So I drop my move and continue straight.

Some distance later I notice him cut off another car in a similar fashion.

Now I look closer at his car.
The paint is intact. But there are a bunch of minor dents that run along both sides of his car.

He does not know how to drive.
Of course, he can change the gears, maybe manage the clutch way better than most.
Probably gets fantastic mileage as he is always in the 40 kmph zone.
BUT HE NEVER LEARNT TO DRIVE.

And he sums up the vast majority of road users, I find.


Edit Added:
I think Santro has a design issue with its HL.
and in the case of vehicles a badly designed one makes a bad driver, worse.
Indicabs for instance has low pickup. They are overloaded.
The only thing the driver has going for him is momentum.
He is not going to loose that because of traffic etiquette.

Last edited by bblost : 26th August 2009 at 14:03.
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Old 26th August 2009, 14:11   #4
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Nicely written DKG. As bblost rightly said, these sums up the vast majority of road users . These people think they are the experts in driving and are never ready to learn. IMO As far as driving is concerned, i dont think there is an end to learning.
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Old 26th August 2009, 14:23   #5
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City driving on high beam should be made punishable all across India.

Many on our roads think that cutting across lanes with least regard for others on road is a big achievement. Even law enforcement authorities are turning a blind eye to this nasty behaviour.

The procedure for driving license should be made more fool proof and rogorous.

Lessons of road discipline & civic sense should be taught at school level. More importantly, discipline should start from home.

Safe driving is an art.

Last edited by KITE RUNNER : 26th August 2009 at 14:25.
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Old 26th August 2009, 14:33   #6
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Very true, it’s a nightmare to drive.

Most people learn steering balance, shifting gears and all the more but driving etiquette is something that’s totally gone astray. Trying not to be cynical but it’s just the general public's concept of gratitude/respect/courtesy, that is seen on the road.
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Old 26th August 2009, 14:38   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
A lot of people have no idea about the way they drive.
I too feel that this really is the problem. The average Indian is not inherently aggressive and so this seemingly aggressive behavior on the road appears to stem from his ignorance that such driving is considered discourteous and is inappropriate. I think if more and more people are sensitised about this perhaps they will self regulate. Atleast a small % of people will improve?

I have noticed something very amusing. Sometimes on Sundays I may be at a signal which is pretty much deserted and my signal is red. I make it a point to stop at red. A few go by disregarding the red when they see no one in the oncoming traffic. A few stop seeing me stopped. They wait with me and amusingly lose their patience too and buzz off before the light turns green. You can tell a lot has to do with a herd mentality. If more people stop everyone stops. If few stop even those who normally would stop tend to join the herd of jumping the signal. Funny behavior.

Last edited by DKG : 26th August 2009 at 14:43.
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Old 26th August 2009, 14:46   #8
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The apalling road sense and lack of etiquette is shown not just on the roads, but also in various social meetings and gatherings such as having no respect for queues, perennial need to be attended to first syndrome, etc.

When you come to think of it that way, there is a much larger issue at hand, and one cannot expect a reform in traffic etiquette till the same is also reflected in the general behaviour and mannerisms.
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Old 26th August 2009, 14:56   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
Red Lights
I can understand a faulty signal which stays stuck in red and people move across. But when you have functional signals people crossing into the intersection despite a red signal are engaging in behavior which at best can be desribed as reckless
Last week, I was waiting at a red signal to turn green. There were cars parked either side of me & in next few seconds you could see lots of vehicle lining behind us.

There is no traffic flow from the other side, where still the signal is green. Obviously its "RED" for our direction, but Cars at either side of me, sensing that there were no vehicles on the other side, quickly moved as if the signal has turned green.

The guy who got stuck behind me kept continuously pressed the horn & put his hand outside through the window abusing me. Same time the signal changed to green & I move a bit. He overtook me, cut in front of me & attempted to go at slow speed forcing me to follow him for some distance (few meters) before he sped away.

I myself would have done the same (i.e jumping the signal) if I have not read all these stuffs repeatedly from our forum. How we get these basics (driving) to all is the challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post

Right of way at roundabouts

Technically when you arrive at a roundabout and notice traffic already in the circle you must concede the right of way to those already in and wait for your turn to enter when the traffic is clear.

On the contrary I notice people diving straight into a roundabout, almost bulldozing their way across. This is rude behaviour and only proves you lack civic sense
Again you will face the same trouble as mentioned above

In our driving conditions, its safe to use horn to alert not to cut across (esp cycle)
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Old 26th August 2009, 14:58   #10
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DKG, you touch a raw nerve in me that gets stepped on every time I drive in Delhi's traffic. Rather naively, I used to think that driving sense is worse in Delhi compared to other cities and metros, especially those down south. But BHPians street experiences have been eye-opening.

I think about it a lot. Some reasons I think why people drive the way they do is:

1. Cultural: We in India live in a fierce dog-eat-dog world, where we literally have to fend for ourselves and for our loved ones day in and day out. Consider this, when you need help- nobody not even the government is there in most cases. Everyone is out to rip you off. This kind of environment forces us to become aggressive, selfish and mean. Naturally then, we show the same behavior when driving on our roads. I think we are culturally wired to be extremely selfish and mean and this explains why people cut each other, even forcing the other person to brake hard.

2. An equally important reason is an appalling lack of education and awareness. Civic sense, and even road sense in most cases can be taught. Many days I see school kids crossing the road on a traffic signal when there is heavy traffic going across- they don't even have the sense to wait for the traffic light to turn red so they could cross over in peace. But they only end up wading through the traffic, slowing it down in turn and pointlessly adding to the congestion. Why couldn't their schools teach them simple principles like zebra crossing, crossing roads on traffic signals etc.?

Similarly, our driving schools could have been more responsible in teaching basic road sense and civic sense into all those who learn to drive. But they simply don't. Net result is we have neanderthal driving fancy powerful cars, and cows disguised as humans crossing the roads. People drive at speed of 50 on the extreme right-side lane of Delhi-Gurgaon e-way. They have no idea that this lane is reserved for fast moving vehicles. Buses, autos, everyone drives on the rightmost lane. Road chaos is no surprise then.

3. Blatant disregard of traffic rules/procedures: A mix of cultural/infrastructure issue, we Indians walk/drive around on roads as if we are in a jungle. People will cross the road when there's a zebra crossing 10 feet away, really some people walk right through the centre of a signal through moving traffic! But then, we have such poor infrastucture that almost instigates such behavior. Not all roads have zebra crossing, so people are just not used to it. Traffic lights are seldom functioning. Cows and dogs roam around freely- even on ring roads. There is no infrastructure for pedestrians or for cyclists. I sometimes feel that our government should take a bigger share of blame for promoting all this lawlessness on our roads.

In my next post, I will put together some solutions that I have come up with, after thinking about this problem for many months now

Last edited by greenh0rn : 26th August 2009 at 15:09. Reason: Added- rightside lane driving
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Old 26th August 2009, 15:00   #11
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DKG,

Few more points can be added to this etiquette list.

1. Overtaking habits (especially from left)
2. maintaining safe distance / not tail gating
3. Intimate driving (= stopping the car so close at the lights that the distance between the doors is 1 ft of less)
4. improper signaling (while turning, changing lanes, crossing etc)
5. not following speed limits
6. driving on the wrong side of the road (even for just few meters it is illegal)
7. Parking / stopping on a busy street and blocking the road.
8. etc, etc
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Old 26th August 2009, 15:03   #12
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You are forgetting about the fact that almost everyone considers it a birthright to drive/ride/pedal at 30kph in the right-most lane or take up 2 lanes. If that problem was solved, almost all the lane-cutting would stop as a consequence.
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Old 26th August 2009, 15:05   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenh0rn View Post
1. Cultural: We in India live in a fierce dog-eat-dog world, where we literally have to fend for ourselves and for our loved ones day in and day out. Consider this, when you need help- nobody not even the government is there in most cases. Everyone is out to rip you off. This kind of environment forces us to become aggressive, selfish and mean. Naturally then, we show the same behavior when driving on our roads. I think we are culturally wired to be extremely selfish and mean and this explains why people cut each other, even forcing the other person to brake hard.


This is not true atleast to the part of this country where I live & Iam happy to be a part here
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Old 26th August 2009, 15:07   #14
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I also thought about some solutions. Three quick-fix areas of solutions are:

1. Educate children and all drivers on traffic and road sense- in schools, colleges and driving schools. If it takes lengthening the process of getting a driving license, so be it.

2. Start with one or two traffic education weeks in all major cities. Get around 1,000-2,000 volunteers from schools/colleges/NGOs- make them work with the traffic police and stop people if they commit any offense (blow horn at a signal, change lanes, cross road badly). People thus stopped can be given an on-the-spot lesson on their violation, and requested to avoid making the same mistake in future.

3. After a few education weeks, start zero-tolerance weeks - at least 2 every month. Again, work with thousands of volunteers across the city. Empower them to fine people Rs. 100-200 for all offenses, no exceptions tolerated. Fine them for changing lanes at a signal, for blowing horns unnecessarily, for jumping signal, for slowing down or stopping in the middle of a road (to pick a passenger for eg.). Pay these volunteers a nice daily remuneration (easily financed from the fines collected).

All people fined will be given a log card, with details of their offense committed. Mandatory to keep the log card in the car. If there is an offense again, the volunteer will check the log sheet to see previous history. For repeat offenders, give them a special 'ticket' for attending a show on traffic education. Put together some simple AV facilities and force these repeat offenders to undergo a 2-3 hour documentary that explains all traffic rules, and the importance of obeying them. But first, have the entire system computerized so that there are no leaks. For worst offenders, ban them from driving for 6 months or more.

Please note that this option might require changes to the Motor Vehicle law and other relevant laws.

4. Improve road infrastructure: I have often seen cars swerve dangerously just to avoid a massive crater. At least give the public better roads. Properly marked zebras. Zebras, or underpass/overbridge at walkable distances. Footpaths and pavements. Ensure properly working signals.

--
I sometimes wonder that if everyone drove sensibly and within his lane, it would take me 30-40 mins to travel from south Delhi to north Delhi (distance is 20km), instead of over an hour that it takes today. Everyone could save time, money, petrol- if only everyone drove more sensibly.
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Old 26th August 2009, 15:22   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
When you come to think of it that way, there is a much larger issue at hand, and one cannot expect a reform in traffic etiquette till the same is also reflected in the general behaviour and mannerisms.
I think you are raising a very valid point. The way people are behaving in society in general has gone through a seachange and traffic is only a reflection of this change.

As kids the society we grew up in seemed to value certain issues such as education, old age, women, success and it seemed quite natural to respect these socially and also on the road the respect was apparent. A courtesy seemed extended naturally to all these. Now its all changed.

Without getting into whether it was right or wrong even success seemed to get respected. So a guy driving a Mercedes Benz was given more respect on the road. Two wheelers gave cars more respect. The elderly were respected and given more chance to manuevre through traffic and the same courtesy extended to women.

Seeing the free for all attitude on the roads one can then naturally ask what commands respect or courtesy today? Nothing?
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