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Old 28th July 2012, 20:17   #16
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Default Phase 2 : Goa - Bangalore

Funny how the best laid out plans can change at the last minute due to very simple (and probably stupid) reasons. The route from Goa to Bangalore was a no-brainer, or atleast what it seemed as per the answers I got on this forum.

Head towards Karnataka on NH66, take a left at Ankola and head on NH/SH 67 towards Hubli, and from there on continue on the GQ (NH4) and you'll reach Bangalore. I even had a list of restaurants where I could have dinner/snacks between Hubli and Bangalore with sufficient feedbacks from tbhpians. I had done that extent of planning. It was as simple as that.

Or so it seemed on paper.

But when you experience the stunning Konkan roads, the Ankola - Hubli - GQ route doesn't seem that good an option. You start thinking otherwise. You wonder if it would be better to keep continuing on this route and take a call later on.

And so the seed was sown.

Meanwhile on the road, I still have to face the first pothole since I left Goa - the road is still that good.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4605.jpg

Time after time I pass through these occasional ghat sections with their own twisters just adding to the fun of the drive. It's moments as these that you are again and again reminded of how flexible this car is - it takes to hilly routes as easily as the straight highways.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4608.jpg

The sea is always at a stone's throw away. Seriously, if any of you guys have any contacts out here, please consider this as an request - I'd love to spend a week or two out here. Just to enjoy a simple, peaceful life away from the daily nonsense.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4609.jpg

And of course, so is the Konkan railway, running parallel to the highway. Contrary to my earlier self-imposed decision, I stop again to take a few snaps of the local surroundings.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4616.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4619.jpg

In retrospect I wish I had taken a few more minutes to get out the tripod from the boot and use it. It's pictures like these that make you believe you could have got a better shot. But the clock ticks, and I still have a long way to go.


A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4621.jpg

Soon I come to a junction where the signboard clearly says -
  • Left : Hubli
  • Straight : Mangalore

And it takes me just a second to decide which route to go. And straight it is

And like that, all that planning goes down the drain.

Over the next hour or so, my decision seems to be a good one. If not the sea, then there are always these water-bodies coming up every 50 odd kms, with the occasional bridge over these rivers/lakes.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4622.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4623.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4624.jpg

Soon I come to the town of Kumta, a small sleepy town that seems to be almost forgotten by most. There are very few people to be seen out here, and just a few government buildings. Now the ideal route to be taken should have been :
Kumta - Honavar - Sagara - Shimoga - Tumkur - Bangalore

This was a decently known route, particularly as the scenic Jog falls comes on this route. Also I remember reading somewhere on one of the threads about the route being redone recently.

However what GoogleMaps baba shows me that there is an alternate, and shorter route via Siddapur :

Kumta - Siddapur - Sagara - Shimoga - Tumkur - Bangalore

On an impulsive note, I ask for directions to Siddapur to a local. He points me to a left turn, a single lane darting away from the highway. Something doesn't seem right, but I tell myself - it's only a 70 kms detour. What can go wrong?

Initially for the next 20-30kms the decision seems fine. It's a single lane road winding through villages, with hardly any traffic. I am able to maintain close to 80+ speeds. But then suddenly the tarmac starts breaking up. And it gets worse and more worse. Soon I'm traversing only at 40-odd speeds. Plus the scenery which used to pass through a village every 5-10 kms, now turns to forest cover.

So the situation seems to be like this
  • Hungry driver. Last meal taken was a dosa at 11 in the morning
  • Decent amount of fuel - no issues on that aspect
  • No mobile connectivity
  • No locals around. No traffic at all. No one to ask for directions. Even if there are, local language not known
  • Forest cover all around
  • Roads fit for SUVs, tractors and bullock carts only

A sane person would have turned around and gone back to Kumta. Me? I sensed an adventure. All I could think - wow, what an awesome post this would turn out on tbhp!

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4629.jpg

And so, like an idiot, I kept continuing ahead. And guess what, it just gets better. The road starts climbing, so it seems we are now on to the hills. Thankfully the road gets a lil better and I decide to up the speed.

But then this comes up and I have to stop.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4633.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4634.jpg

Waterfalls on the Ambola ghat with all options available did not make me stop. But a small untouched waterfall, with literally nobody around, in rural Karnataka makes me ga-ga. I get down, splash around like a kid in the waterfalls. For a moment I think of giving the car a wash - she was quite dirty.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4635.jpg

Thankfully, my common sense prevails and I decide to continue ahead. The road starts climbing up the hill and then I see the first human being after a long time. There are workers putting up a cement road! Suddenly from a broken down hilly track, suddenly I'm onto a nice, curvy cement track with absolutely no other vehicles. The situation doesn't look so bad now, considering there seems to be civilization. It seems this road is being layered, with the work starting from Siddapur side. Hopefully over this year, the entire route till Kumta might get laid with a proper cement/tar track! If that happens, I'll surely recommend this route to all.

While I'm traversing on the rural routes, I kept seeing these locals walking aside the route. I wonder if this is a simple, home-made rain-coat for these guys. Any of you guys can explain this to me?

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4638.jpg

Finally I reach the town of Siddapur. A few questions to the locals ensures I'm on the right route to Sagara, and more important, back to NH69. I see the signs to Jog falls, unfortunately I have no time for any more "detours". It's a real pity, I didn't plan out this earlier. In retrospect I could have stayed over at any of the villages/towns and reach Bangalore a day later.

I stop at one of the towns and have a cup of coffee and a bun. I realize, it's filter coffee! The first one on this trip. The sugar is less, and probably the milk too, but I'm not complaining. It's close to 6 and I haven't had any lunch. I again make the mistake of not having something more solid. Bangalore is another 400 kms, and I decide to pass a meal for now. Big mistake, as my next meal is only in Bangalore, a good 6 hours later!

The next hours simply whiz by! Shimoga, Bhadravathi, Tarikere, Banavara, Arsikere, Tiptur - all just are a blur in my memory. It's already dark, so I don't even think of stopping over for a pic. Finally I reach Tumkur around 9 and with it the GQ. This is probably the only time I ever show pleasure at seeing a traffic jam (at the Tumkur toll). I call up my friend, inform him of my current position, and ask him to get dinner for me.

Soon I come to Dobbspot, where I need to take the detour to Doddaballapur. As my destination is Hoskote, this roundabout route was a better option, than going through the city. I also give a call to Nilesh to check on possible options to meet up. Although I was completely dead, and very hungry, and in no possible condition to spend any extra time outside I remember asking him if there was a possibility of meeting up later in the night! lol.

Finally, close to 11.30 in the night, I finally reach Hoskote, tired, almost dead, absolutely hungry, but safe and sound. The drive took me close to 11 hours, for a distance just over 650 kms. Except for the coffee break, and the occasional photo-breaks, it was a non-stop drive. I have a blister on my right foot, I literally gorge up all the food available and within minutes of that, I am snoring away like a baby!

<OT>
If given a choice, would I do it again?
Of course. Without doubt.
</OT>

Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th July 2012 at 20:19.
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Old 28th July 2012, 22:07   #17
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Default Re: A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai

Great narration, I am actually on text only mode but still enjoying this, will relook once on land.
On separate occasions have covered Mumbai to Goa and mangalore to Goa via the Coastal route and just loved it, roads were terrible but I just turn a blind eye to that aspect.
Have been very keen on taking the Coastal route down to Kanya Kumari from Mumbai, maybe this winter........
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Old 28th July 2012, 22:28   #18
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Default Re: A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai

Quote:
Originally Posted by Off Roadie View Post
Great narration, I am actually on text only mode but still enjoying this, will relook once on land.
On separate occasions have covered Mumbai to Goa and mangalore to Goa via the Coastal route and just loved it, roads were terrible but I just turn a blind eye to that aspect.
Have been very keen on taking the Coastal route down to Kanya Kumari from Mumbai, maybe this winter........
Gee, thanks. Btw, that's an interesting viewpoint. I generally try to fit in my TL for the reader to weave through the pics and prose. Wonder how it comes out only with the text available. Good that you are enjoying it.

And yes, like you mentioned, I am too keen on traversing the coastal route. Infact that's exactly what I mentioned earlier in this thread, on which I'm thinking to do in August, only issue is the availability of time!
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Old 29th July 2012, 04:38   #19
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Default Re: Phase 2 : Goa - Bangalore

Awesome travelogue, ninja!! Loved the photos and even if it delayed all your plans, your photos made it worthwhile!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
Soon I come to Dobbspot, where I need to take the detour to Doddaballapur. As my destination is Hoskote, this roundabout route was a better option, than going through the city. I also give a call to Nilesh to check on possible options to meet up. Although I was completely dead, and very hungry, and in no possible condition to spend any extra time outside I remember asking him if there was a possibility of meeting up later in the night! lol.

Finally, close to 11.30 in the night, I finally reach Hoskote, tired, almost dead, absolutely hungry, but safe and sound. The drive took me close to 11 hours, for a distance just over 650 kms. Except for the coffee break, and the occasional photo-breaks, it was a non-stop drive. I have a blister on my right foot, I literally gorge up all the food available and within minutes of that, I am snoring away like a baby!
Yes, and you said that you will call again once you reach Bangalore. When I did not get your call, I guessed much that you must be dead tired!! Unfortunately, a day later when you called, what I feared had happened -- I was dragged into a customer call which turned out to be not so fruitful. Instead, I'd have preferred meeting up with you and have a better evening!!

P.S. I am writing this from the city of the same customer, whom I cursed in the last para

Quote:
<OT>
If given a choice, would I do it again?
Of course. Without doubt.
</OT>
Absolutely. Such trips are what memories should be made off!

Last edited by nileshch : 29th July 2012 at 04:40.
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Old 30th July 2012, 20:12   #20
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Default Re: A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai

Beautiful narration and pics. Kept me glued and wanting for more. Also brought back memories of my drive to Goa 2 years ago through the Nippani- Amboli route.

Awaiting the next despatch of your travelouge.
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Old 30th July 2012, 23:38   #21
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nileshch View Post
Awesome travelogue, ninja!! Loved the photos and even if it delayed all your plans, your photos made it worthwhile!
Agree with that! Now I wish I had stopped even more!
Quote:
P.S. I am writing this from the city of the same customer, whom I cursed in the last para
Lol! You sure he isn't active on tbhp and reading this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vij4all View Post
Beautiful narration and pics. Kept me glued and wanting for more. Also brought back memories of my drive to Goa 2 years ago through the Nippani- Amboli route.

Awaiting the next despatch of your travelouge.
Thanks boss. Will surely get to it asap, once I get some free time and wrap up work.

Last edited by ninjatalli : 30th July 2012 at 23:39.
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Old 31st July 2012, 00:36   #22
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Awesome man, superb pictures, narration and statistics. The "solo driver" is the best part. I just did a trip to Goa from Chennai myself , say about 2 weeks back and I now feel that I've missed lot of places driving in night.
We did it in a i20 and it was a 4 day trip covering 2200+Kms with 2 Drivers

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-goa.jpg
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Old 31st July 2012, 03:32   #23
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Default Re: A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai

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Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
Lol! You sure he isn't active on tbhp and reading this?
Far from it. I reckon not many Latin American BHPians around, are they?
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Old 31st July 2012, 16:27   #24
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Default Re: Phase 2 : Goa - Bangalore

I was on the frying-pan reading the TL. You know it better. Excellent write-up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
<OT>
If given a choice, would I do it again?
Of course. Without doubt.
</OT>
When?
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Old 31st July 2012, 19:04   #25
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Default Re: Phase 2 : Goa - Bangalore

Quote:
Originally Posted by satheesh1909 View Post
Awesome man, superb pictures, narration and statistics. The "solo driver" is the best part. I just did a trip to Goa from Chennai myself , say about 2 weeks back and I now feel that I've missed lot of places driving in night.
We did it in a i20 and it was a 4 day trip covering 2200+Kms with 2 Drivers

Attachment 963674
Wow. Nice - I believe our dates almost matched. But I believe you did most of the driving on the GQ/NH routes - guess that part is better off being done during the night. Will touch up on this on the return trip which was on similar route as yours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nileshch View Post
Far from it. I reckon not many Latin American BHPians around, are they?
lol - in that manner you are pretty safe. Btw, that's a lovely continent to be on! I wish some of my clients were based out of there!

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When?
Same dates & destination/route as we were discussing earlier! Don't tell me you are already thinking otherwise! I am trying to get one or more junta for this!
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Old 31st July 2012, 21:46   #26
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Default Phase 3 : Bangalore - Chennai

Day 3 Route

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-route.jpg

Distance : 320 kms
Time Taken : 5 hours 25 mins

When I went to sleep the previous night, I remember telling my friend not to wake me up in the morning - inspite of all his pre-planned morning activities I had no intentions of agreeing for any of them. However due to unknown and weird reasons, I am the first one to get up!

After having completed the customary morning downloads <heh> and other related activities, I go out and check if the car is still in one piece - yup, there she is. A bit dirty, but all parts are still there.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4640001.jpg

My friend suggests a nearby car-wash garage and soon we head over there.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4648.jpg

For a minor sum of 100 bucks, the men agree to give a clean (outer) wash to the car. And boy! Does she look all clean!

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4647.jpg

And once the activity is done, I start to get the cravings for filter coffee and a good south-indian breakfast! In-between, another friend of mine gives me a call and so we decide to head towards Marathalli where we plan to meet them. My friend who takes over the car goes through a roundabout route (SH 35) which takes us through some pretty fields.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4645.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4643.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4642.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4641.jpg

Later on, as the day progresses, I start making plans to start moving towards Chennai via the OMR (Old Madras Road) route. I drop off my friend near Krishnarajapuram and head on back towards Hoskote and OMR onwards.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4657.jpg

The route is supposed to be quite simple : Hoskote - Mulbagal - Chittor - Vellore (optional) - Chennai. I had got sufficient feedback from @Ampere and others on the condition of the road on this route. The road till Mulbagal is a magnificent 4 lane route through some barren yet pretty landscape.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4658.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4659.jpg

A few toll gates appear on this route, however there are no tolls to be paid. There is hardly any traffic, and I have no problems in maintaining 120+ speeds. As on most of the earlier part of the trip, the rains elude me most of the time except for a few minor showers. But in whichever direction I see, I can clearly see (dark clouds &) showers all over the place.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4662.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4667.jpg

However considering that the majority of the drive to Chennai is going to be on 2-lane roads in the night, I am thankful that the rain clouds are eluding me. I couldn't be any more wrong on this thought!

Soon we pass by the town of Mulbagal, and with that the road turns into a no-divider 2-lane route. I stop for a moment to capture this beautiful image of the setting sun behind a hill.

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4669.jpg

The next few kms of the route still seem doable - decent quality of tarmac, moderate amount of traffic that consists of a large number of AP buses and vehicles clearly heading towards Tirupati and other nearby cities.


A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4672.jpg

A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai-img_4674.jpg
Please do note the post next to the number plate - "GHAT ELIGIBLE"

Around the time I pass by the city of Palmaner, some 100 kms from Hoskote, the sun sets and as if on cue all hell breaks loose!

From a few odd buses and cars on the road, suddenly now there is this mixture of slow moving trucks, tractors, bullock carts (!) and 2 wheelers, all added to the existing buses and cars which still want to continue at the same 3 digit figures. And what doesn't help to this situation is the increasing traffic coming from Chittor with probably the same mixture.

I start keeping a safe distance from the vehicle(s) in front of me and also reduce my speed to more safer levels. However what I can't help is if there are idiots in the incoming traffic, without a care in the world. And there are several on this route, so it seemed.

Now imagine this situation - a truck or a tractor going at a speed of 30-40kmph on a 2 lane route, blocking a barrage of trucks, buses, and cars behind it, all waiting for the moment they see a gap in the on-coming traffic on the other lane (of a 2-lane road with big trees lined up on either side of the road). Now the only signal of a "gap" in the in-coming traffic is the absence of any headlights for a few seconds, and as if on cue, every tom, dick and harry in that following line of vehicles tries to make a beeline for it. And now imagine if you are the one coming up front from the opposite direction watching all these cars all charging towards you.

Exactly that happens to me. Atleast 3-4 times. Every single time, it's me who has to brake hard (thank god for ABS) and for once I literally steer off the road into the gravel!

Thankfully, Chittor arrives, and with it a large number of my fellow travelers move out, giving me some piece of mind. Or so I think. A few kms ahead and finally it starts to rain. And it pours. So heavily it rains that the traffic literally comes to a standstill - people are not able to see 2 feet ahead of them, except for the hazard lights and the brake lights of the vehicles ahead of them. I decide to move on at a slow pace, following a bus in front of me a few feet ahead. Unknowingly to me the bus arrives at a town and moves into the local bus-stand, and like a blind idiot I follow him into the stand

Moving out, I continue on the road, and decide to get back to the GQ (NH48) via Katpadi - Vellore city. The rain continues, however the intensity reduces and with it my speed goes up to 3 digit figures for the first time since Mulbagal.

Around 9, I finally touch the GQ - I literally come out of the car and kiss the tarmac! After all the adventures over the past two hours, the traffic-intense national highway seems like a walk in the park. It takes me another 2 hours and I finally reach home! Till today, my parents swear that I treated them like hotel attendants that night - I landed at 11 in the night, had food, said a few arbit words about random topics ignoring their questions about the trip, and immediately went to sleep!

Last edited by ninjatalli : 31st July 2012 at 21:50.
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Old 1st August 2012, 18:52   #27
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Default Re: A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai

Quick one - in a picture (after the picture of the railway line), the car seems to be parked on the right side of the road and the road curves ahead. Is'nt that risky? And i also notice that your hazard lights are never on when the car is stationary.
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Old 1st August 2012, 20:25   #28
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Default Re: A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai

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Quick one - in a picture (after the picture of the railway line), the car seems to be parked on the right side of the road and the road curves ahead. Is'nt that risky? And i also notice that your hazard lights are never on when the car is stationary.
Good observation. I had initially taken the (railway line) picture from the car, hence the stoppage on the wrong side of the road. Also I felt that side was more safer for following traffic as there was a 180 degree blind turn just before so didn't take care to move it. But what was wrong was the angled way it was parked even if it was there only for a minute.

As for the hazard lights, (as a habit) I only use it during night driving, or when stationary on an extremely busy road. As you would see, most of the above pictures were taken on almost empty highway roads.
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Old 1st August 2012, 20:28   #29
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Default Re: A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai

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Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post

As for the hazard lights, (as a habit) I only use it during night driving, or when stationary on an extremely busy road. As you would see, most of the above pictures were taken on almost empty highway roads.
Your stationary car is more likely to get hit by another vehicle doing a good speed on empty highway than a crowded road
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Old 1st August 2012, 20:41   #30
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Default Re: A Trip Down South : Pune - Goa - Bangalore - Chennai

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Originally Posted by vivekiny2k View Post
Your stationary car is more likely to get hit by another vehicle doing a good speed on empty highway than a crowded road
lol. Possibly quite true. But then if I start using it in that manner, I'd rather call it an "Look-out-for-me" indicator than a hazard (light). However, I come from that belief of using them only when it is utmost necessary or actually when my car is a serious hazard for others. Not every time I pass through a tunnel, not every time I stop aside the road. Unfortunately, (in my opinion) the probabilities (of getting hit from back) go very high during the night, and hence the usage.
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