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Old 29th April 2009, 13:12   #1
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Default Highway driving etiquette and rules

Mod Note : Please continue the discussion on Our Article on Safe Highway Driving (ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats).

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Hello.

I grew up doing most of my travelling on the highway either with my uncles/cousins in their ambassadors or contessa classic. My uncles and cousins being regular highway junkies knew, every curve and pothole of the roads they frequently covered,were accurate about lorry and bus driver psyche and most important of all highway driving etiquette that was picked up from years of driving with a lot of common sense and presence of mind. Sitting beside them and accompanying them was an education in its own on highway driving.

I did search this forum for threads specifically dedicated to the basic do's and don'ts on highway driving, but could not find any.So thought it's good to write one and in the process learn from the others as well.

In the past few years I have witnessed quite a few essentially young urban folk taking the plunge to driving out of town and out of their comfort zones (congested urban traffic) and getting into serious accidents on the highway simply because they were not used to driving on highway and were unware of the dos and dont's connected to it. These are the few I can recall as of now and would appreciate it fellow TBHPians could add on

The first few lessons I learnt were:
  1. Do not overtake till you have accumulated at least a 1000kms of highway driving experience and do not exceed more than 70-80kmh on your first few runs, just so that you get used to slowing down, braking,the curves on a highway,the slow bullock carts, the cyclists (most dangerous In My Honest Opinion), the oncoming traffic specially buses.
  2. If a dog/hen crosses the road don't try braking to avoid them (especially if you are driving fast and if it's a busy highway). Trying to suddenly stop could result in the car swerving and you losing control and putting your life at risk as well as the others
  3. Understand the use of dimming and dipping your headlights.
    1. If someone behind you is constantly dimming and dipping means he wants to overtake you.
    2. At curves/blind bends people on the opposite side dim and dip to warn oncoming traffic of their presence and that they are coming through,if you are on your highbeam and the opposite driver flashes his lights he is requesting you to use your low beam
    3. Use your low beams when there is oncoming traffic
  4. While trying to overtake trucks or buses, normally the highway educated drivers will let you know if you can overtake or not through their indicators or wave of hand. If the left indicator blinks, it means you can't overtake and there's oncoming traffic while thr 'right' indicator means, go ahead
  5. While overtaking don't blindly follow/tailgate the vehicle ahead of you that is also overtaking. While overtakeing he/she would have assessed for enough space ahead for his/her vehicle to get back into the lane, but not for yours. Also if that person ahead of you has wrongly estimated the road and speed of the oncoming traffic you are in big troube!In most cases Kaput!
  6. Drivers tend to be sleepy at dawn and is a hot time for accidents
  7. If for some reason you feel you are sleepy and need to take a quick nap. Stop the car safely to the side of the road and take in some sleep.
  8. Don't suddenly stop/slowdown in the middle of the road (you are on highway remember) to take a picture!
  9. If you do decide to stop...move to the left and take the car off the road and stop and switch on your hazard lamps
  10. While getting back on ensure there's no traffic behind you, use your indicator and only then get on to the road.
  11. Use your rear view mirrors
  12. People don't really use their horns on the highway as much as they do inside the city
  13. If you are uncomfortable with night driving, paln your journey and stops well
  14. The closer you get to your destination, the greater the urge to reach faster or the tendency to lose concentration/focus. A greater risk of a collision or accident
  15. Get your car serviced and checked up before embarking on a long journey and also have details of service centers on the route

Last edited by GTO : 7th January 2013 at 21:50. Reason: Adding link to Advice Article
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Old 29th April 2009, 13:31   #2
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Some solid points there Pranav. I have seen many drivers use excessive braking during highways. This is a bad habit. One should keep track of the speed at all times and use adequate speed to avoid hard braking.
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Old 29th April 2009, 14:08   #3
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A good write-up on the basics. However I think this point is wrong:

Quote:
Originally Posted by pranava999 View Post
While trying to overtake trucks or buses, normally the highway educated drivers will let you know if you can overtake or not through their indicators or wave of hand. If the left indicator blinks, it means you can't overtake and there's oncoming traffic while thr 'right' indicator means, go ahead
If the left-indicator is ON, it means we can overtake and if the right-indicator is ON, it means don't overtake. The logic behind it being that if we want to turn off a road (take a left), we give the left-indicator to signal that we are going off the road and the vehicle behind can go thru the right side. And simillarly for right turns. We wouldn't look at overtaking a vehicle thru the right side if he puts on the right-indicator.

I've seen a lot of trucks on the highway use the wrong signalling system and have been left confused whether I should overtake or not.

Last edited by unni.ak : 29th April 2009 at 14:13.
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Old 29th April 2009, 14:25   #4
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Thats a neat write-up Pranav!

I travel a lot on the Mumbai - Pune Exprees Higway and indicator systems is so confusing that its not funny. Ideally, on the expressway an indicator should be used when you are changing lanes. But now the confusing part out here is that some people actually use them to say that your are free to overtake and the others to change lanes. It's a crazy scenario because you really can't make out whether you shuld overtake or that guy is changing lanes.

Also the concept of a fast lane is an alien concept to most of the drivers and specially for the cabbies shuttling on a regular basis. Infact once I caught up with one of the drivers who refused to leave the fast lane, in the foodplaza and guess what he said, 'Look the speed limit on the expressway is 80kmp and I was at 80, so techically speaking I have the right to be in the fast lane!'
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Old 29th April 2009, 14:30   #5
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You forgot the most important point of all, ask everybody sitting in the car to WEAR SEATBELTS well atleast those sitting at the front!!!!!
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Old 29th April 2009, 14:32   #6
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No unni.ak,
In india everyone has a right hand drive car, and we drive on the left side of the road, also when we OVERTAKE we go from the right, so the sensible signal is the right, and when they are telling to stop, it is sensible to use the left signal, so as to indicate that do not go from my right.
But all truckers use their hands even if their lights are in working condition.
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Old 29th April 2009, 14:33   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unni.ak View Post
However I think this point is wrong: I've seen a lot of trucks on the highway use the wrong signalling system and have been left confused whether I should overtake or not.
Yes. that's a big confusion on the highways. Even though logic says it should be other way, but we must be aware of the practices of different drivers. Hence it is good to look out for both the signals and then take a decision on your own

Another important rule is, the vehicle climbing down will give way to the vehicle climbing up. I have seen lot of city folks giving hardships to the heavier vehicles by not following this simple rule.

If it is a curvy road, do not ever stop on the road for whatever reason. Try to go off the road and then stop. Or give enough warnings for the upcoming traffic, if your vehicle is broken down in a curvy road.
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Old 29th April 2009, 14:50   #8
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Default Give way

Some more from my side.

1. Give way, let faster vehicles overtake you, slow down a little to ease the process. If possible, move over to the left and let him go. Remember that there are a lot of vehicles that will be faster than you, if he has caught up with you it means that he is faster.

Corollary: When stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, if a faster vehicle is behind you, let him overtake first before you swing out to overtake.

2. On multi-lane highways, if you are following a vehicle, stay in the same lane as the vehicle in front. If, for any reason you feel uncomfortable doing this, keep a huge distance between you and the vehicle in front (enough for an overtaking vehicle to safely change lanes between you and the vehicle in front).

3. When following a vehicle, shift to low beam.

Cheers,
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Old 29th April 2009, 14:51   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anarchist View Post
You forgot the most important point of all, ask everybody sitting in the car to WEAR SEATBELTS well atleast those sitting at the front!!!!!
ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! Thanks anarchist. Please wear your seat belts
Another request... Please don't litter the highways with plastic. It's such a sore sight and degrades the environment. We proudly follow this when we live/travel abroad but, not in our country!

Last edited by pranava999 : 29th April 2009 at 14:56.
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Old 29th April 2009, 14:51   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anarchist View Post
You forgot the most important point of all, ask everybody sitting in the car to WEAR SEATBELTS well atleast those sitting at the front!!!!!
Fascinating thread, especially for this relative newcomer.

Two points, though, which are internationally true:

Seat belts are just as important in the back. A front-seat passenger can be killed by being struck by the person behind them. A child sitting in the middle of the back seat will have just got up speed nicely by the time they reach the windscreen

Dip headlights when there is a car in front of you as well as oncoming. The glare in the mirror is blinding.

Whilst the driver of a large vehicle, such as a truck, has better visibility, overtaking should always be one's own decision, based on one's own judgement.
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Old 29th April 2009, 15:11   #11
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One another request on the highway driving would be to keep the dip headlights on even in the day-time. It improves your car's visibility to other traffic (front & back) and pedestrians (even when you are far as the eyes see light first). I always drive with my low beams switched on even in daytime. Seat belts in rear help a lot even if there is hard braking therefore all occupants should be buckled up in their seats.

Also, whenever driving a vehicle on highways make sure you have a good experience on driving that particular vehicle i.e. know the limits of the vehicle and yourself (driver).

A good driver should use engine braking on highways rather than waiting till the end to brake hard near the other traffic in the front.
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Old 29th April 2009, 15:16   #12
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Default Some more from my side

  • Once you have finished overtaking a vehicle, don't cut immediately to the left. Proceed till your car crosses the vehicle fully and move to the lane.
  • Dont try to overtake on a flyover or a bridge.
  • Dont try to overtake if another vehicle is waiting for its turn to overtake the slow moving vehicle. Wait till the other vehicle completes its overtaking. (For e.g. in a double lane road, a vehicle might be following a slow moving truck because of some obstacle. Trying to squeeze in between is dangerous). Just wait for your turn.
  • Give priority for small vehicles/pedestrians on your left when your are crossing a town/city.
  • Kill your ego. Dont race with some one who has overtaken you in a rash way.
  • Dont get attracted to road incidents while driving. It may distract you from concentrating on the road.
  • Watch for people crossing before or after a parked/stopped bus. Honk for a long time before you overtake the parked/stopped bus.
  • Slow down when crossing small towns/villages. Watch out for two wheelers/pedestrians may suddenly decide to cross or take a U turn.
  • Make sure the parked vehicle on your left is not ready to start before you overtake. Sometime they might come into the way without noticing you approaching. Though its their mistake, but better to be careful.
  • Wait for your turn to cross a narrow flyover/bridge and police barricades.
Please let me know if any item said above is not correct.
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Old 29th April 2009, 15:20   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ankoor View Post
Thats a neat write-up Pranav!

I travel a lot on the Mumbai - Pune Exprees Higway and indicator systems is so confusing that its not funny. Ideally, on the expressway an indicator should be used when you are changing lanes. But now the confusing part out here is that some people actually use them to say that your are free to overtake and the others to change lanes. It's a crazy scenario because you really can't make out whether you shuld overtake or that guy is changing lanes.

Also the concept of a fast lane is an alien concept to most of the drivers and specially for the cabbies shuttling on a regular basis.
True the point about using the indicators to give way is mostly for our 2 lane highways and not really for the multilaned expressways. On these expressways one should use their indicators while switching lanes.

About the concept of a fast lane....fully loaded trucks also behave the same. For some reason they pick the extreme right lane and plod along at around 30-40kmh! but give them credit they just stick to that lane

Another thing about our Indian expressways....SPECIALLY IN THE VICINITY OF SETTLEMENTS/VILLAGES - don't be surprised if you see tractors driving towards you on the wrong side! Common on the B'lore - Chennai expressway!

If one is following a country/local bus. Keep a safe distance and a safe speed as they may suddenly stop to pick up or drop off people.
There are rarely any clearly demarcated/dedicated bus stops.
Also while overtaking such buses at stops,be careful as people sometimes tend to cross the road in front of the bus and that's a blind spot for you.
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Old 29th April 2009, 15:21   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unni.ak View Post
A good write-up on the basics. However I think this point is wrong:



If the left-indicator is ON, it means we can overtake and if the right-indicator is ON, it means don't overtake. The logic behind it being that if we want to turn off a road (take a left), we give the left-indicator to signal that we are going off the road and the vehicle behind can go thru the right side. And simillarly for right turns. We wouldn't look at overtaking a vehicle thru the right side if he puts on the right-indicator.

I've seen a lot of trucks on the highway use the wrong signaling system and have been left confused whether I should overtake or not.
Well its a big confusion,

On Ahmedabad-Vadodara express highway, I have seen cars are giving permission for overtaking by either left or right indicators. So, its really a dilemma, if you wan to give permission, which light you have to blink. I usually blink right indicator to give permission to overtake by a car behind you.

Last edited by loving_alaap : 29th April 2009 at 15:29.
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Old 29th April 2009, 15:24   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neeld View Post
A good driver should use engine braking on highways rather than waiting till the end to brake hard near the other traffic in the front.
Good point Neeld.

Engine braking refers to slowing down by downshifting the gears (from a higher gear to the lower gear,this does not strain the synchro mesh gearboxes of present day cars) and then applying the brakes.This gives you better control

Avoid braking hard and long when you want to slow down. Down shift your gears and then apply the brakes in spurts so as to prevent them from over heating

Last edited by pranava999 : 29th April 2009 at 15:29.
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