Traffic and life on the road in Chennai
i have, in the past one month or so, i have become a master of chennai peak hour traffic. i had set myself a few rules which helped me greatly shorten my travel time as well as keep my new car dent and scratch free(at least till now!)
rule no.1- there is no such thing as a traffic-free route in chennai so dont expect to see wide open roads if you follow the routes i list out.
rule no.2- there are a few thing that you need to constantly watch out, avoid or be prepared for and which are listed below in the order of priority.
a)TVS50/champ/Bajaj M80 - especially the ones with a wide rear carrier or side box with protruding locks.
b) Honda Activa/ TVS scooty- (especially the ones with those idiotic side guards with dangerously protruding sharp edges).
the above two types of motorised demons are the highest ranked nemesis of car owners and if you happen to be stuck in traffic either beside, behind or ahead of one such contraption the chances of your bumper being scratched are an astounding 90%.
c) Cheap motorbikes (Bajaj Platina, Hero Honda Passion/Splendor/TVS Star etc.) and second-hand motorbikes (especially the ones without rear view mirrors, and short handle bars)
The lower the price of the bike, the lower the IQ of the rider. These vehicles take and insane pleasure of squeezing past your vehicle at heart stoppingly dangerous and sometimes non-existent proximity and you end up with a neat little dent and a hideous scratch to remind you of the experience.
d) The registration numbers are also a revelation of the character of the vehicle and rider. TN 21 XXXX the underlined number is inversely proportional to the education and IQ level of the rider. The lower the number the better disciplined the rider is(generally,…but not all the time) but if the number plate has some fancy fonts or even worse, some other idiotic graphics, rest assured that you have a loose cannon in the vicinity stay well clear of these guys because they get these uncontrollable urges to weave in and around cars and gaps visible only to their short circuited vision and most invariably find out the gaps do not exist after getting stuck between two cars and then scratching and denting their way out without even a hint of apology!
There is also another level 2 type of rider that you need to steer clear of. They are the ones who wear a tight scarf instead of a helmet, wear tight fitting, bell bottomed, zipper tape finished(at the pant’s bottom) pants, wear chappals or sandals and most invariably have a female pillion rider(who wears lots of jasmine flowers,garish churidhar, dupatta flying out in all directions, cheap plastic footwear(dirty feet to match as well!) and large silver anklets (the flat one with lots of small balls). These guys seem to get a thrill of accelerating suddenly swerving in all directions and then braking violently for no reason at all even on relatively steady paced traffic!:Shockked:. Do not attempt to drive anywhere close because there is almost a 99% chance of getting your vehicle tangled with the idiot’s bike and what’s worse is the guy will try to play hero and pick a fight to show off to the ‘chick’ he is riding with and spoil your mood, damaging your car in the bargain!
There is also a level3 rider. That is vehicles having numbers from TN 23 XXXX who are definitely out of towners and these idiots ride like they ride in their villages. Even seemingly educated ones ride at their own pace irrespective of traffic urgency. Most often these bikes are fitted with oversized side boxes:eek: which they conveniently forget till it knocks out someone’s car side door mirrors or even worse the tail lamps! One saving grace is most of these idiots wise up after an accident and ride properly then on…but you don’t want to take the chance and find out if you are the first accident for them do you?
e) Share Autos and autorickshaws – extremely slow to move around but have a magical ability to enter and exit sideways in traffic and also stop instantly for no reason or to sometimes prospect or pick up passengers. They also tend to get into wrong lanes (which maybe seem right to them) and then exit at the last second to a direction of their choice.
The drivers are invariably quite offensive and tend to fight their way into making you pay for his mistakes!
f) Private Company Staff buses/minibuses – the drivers for these vehicles seem to have been sourced from the autorickshaw/share auto drivers’ community and they drive the buses in the exact way they drive autos. It is not uncommon to see such mammoths veering into your line of path at some impossible angles and the best thing is to stay either behind them or as far away as possible from them. The drivers tend to shut out vehicles that are below their eye level, out of their vision and they always seem to race against some invisible racing competitor beside them! The worst of the lot are buses of 3i Infotech, HCL, ebay, TCS, Accenture and Cognizant in that order of ranking. Some buses even have the mandatory complaint numbers blanked out or removed to avoid feedback!
g) MTC buses- generally better behaved than the private buses except when they approach a bus stop and then they turn into some medieval monsters out to destroy and block everything in their path. Best bet is to stick to the rear of these buses and jump clear and get ahead(which is impossible 98% of the time!)when a bus stop approaches. You need to also watch out for the pedestrians at these bus stops because they most always assemble in huge groups IN FRONT of the bus and rush madly to the middle of the road oblivious to oncoming traffic, throwing you a nasty shock and orchestrating a massive tailgate- domino effect and multiple bumper damage for at least 3 or 4 cars!
h)TATA Indica, Toyota Qualis, Mahindra Maxi cabs and private Indica cars- the drivers of these vehicles are close cousins to the Share auto/Autorickshaw drivers and they share the same character traits which is bad news for ‘proper-driving’ commuters. The drivers of these vehicles feel that the other vehicle is too close only when there is physical contact and it is rare to see an Indica cab or private car without a dent or scratch on all the sides of the car!
Rule no.3 –
The meek don’t inherit the road!... there is no point in being a defensive driver. An acceptable bit of aggression is good for you and your vehicle if you need to reach your destination in a reasonable bit of time and in one piece. When I say acceptable, I mean that you should be able to control your vehicle in an occasion of emergency braking(both yours and others)...................(to be continued)
That brought a smile to my face. You seem to have high powers of observation - shows up especially in your detailed description of the "level 2" riders!
Do you live on Sterling Road by any chance?
Traffic is highly undisciplined!. But all said and done, Chennai has much better roads compared to some other cities i have been to. May be, because i live outside the city (Office @ Shollinganallur, and regularly come down till Adayar)
As a mallu now working in Chennai for about an year, i find the roads much better than in trivandrum (Six lane neat roads instead of our 1 1/2 lane pothole roads). Traffic discipline is better in Trivandrum though.
Few worries i have-
1. Cows & dogs.
2. Traffic coming on the opposite side leftmost lane.
3. Horn when stuck in a traffic jam/ waiting for signal. That too, loud deafening horns!
:uncontrol I really enjoyed that, your observations are true for the most part!
BTW I ride a Splendor to work and the plates of my bike as well as car start with TN 22 XXXX!
you are way out of the league of bike riders, my friend! infact with the combined value you are over the Alto league as well...as for your number plate starting with TN 22 XXXX, you, are living proof that there are exceptions to the rule!!:D
Sterling James great writing and I am really glad that your brought up the point of private busses agree:. They never bother about the fellow drivers on the road. I wanted to complain about their driving styles to the management but as you said they wisely remove/block the conplaint cell numbers.
By the way my number plates on my bikes are TN 20 and TN 22 series. My car series starts with TN 33 and TN 20. I always obey the traffic rules and I ensure that I keep safe distance between cars and I do not squeeze my bike/car between two cars in signals and also will never overtake from left. I also fall under the category of riding with a scarf under my helmet and also wear sandals most part during my weekend drive within city limits. As a rule i dont drive my bike without helmet.please:
Thanks for the post, it was hilarious
try out my route(anna nagar west to perungudi) and you will start weeping and craving for the wonderful 1 and 1/2 lane potholed roads of trivandrum!
As for cows and dogs, i damn nearly ran over a cow(i think i managed to drive over it's tail!)last week and also got abused by a biker coming in from the wrong side of the road for not giving him enough space to ride!:Frustrati
i also took a day off for temporary deafness caused by no.3 you mentioned, although mine was louder one with musical tone too!!...
what can i say?
welcome to chennai!!!
The route I take everyday generally has steady,fast moving traffic (Chromepet-Guindy) except a couple of bottlenecks. At these places, two wheelers coming very close or attempting to squeeze through very close to my car give me high BP! If you generally observe two wheeler riders for a small distance, you can easily tell a person who also drives a car apart from the one who rides only a bike. The first type will have both side RVMs, actually make use of them, will not switch lanes abruptly and will not approach cars too closely. It is always better to keep our distance from the second type, unless fate pushes you close to them!
For this very reason, and also because it is faster, I mainly use my bike for commuting to work. The car is mainly used for week-ends, and for trips that involve more than two people or out on the highways.
i think the rain today, brings out all the rare ones out in the open!!!:D at this rate i will have to put a public apology in THE HINDU!!
where you set yourself apart from the others is you ALSO WEAR a helmet. i am talking about the guys who wear ONLY the scarf and no helmet...i can safely assume that your scarf is not the one in irridiscent colors and sporting pictures of actor vijay, rajnikanth, jackie chan or 'stone cold' steve austin? beacuse that is the offical head gear of the earlier mentioned heroes!.....
now dont tell me that you too wear such a scarf over the weekends:eek:!!!!
My way of driving is pretty simple, I dont go by the looks of the driver /vehicle or even the number (no offence) but before I overtake/drive behing or ahead of a vehicle, I observe the driving pattern and then keep distance. Trust me I have close encounter with luxury cars driven by owners who are on the phone and dont concentrate on teh road. I always watch out for pedestrians and unless i see a clear stretch I wont stand on the accelerator.
Sterling james, you wont know the pain of driving a 15 feet sedan in Madipakkam traffic. Gansan please help me out here as you are from the nearby locality ;). I Need to have 360 degree view to ensure that no morans tries their artyistic skills with their vehicle on my car paint.
Yes I understand honking is one of the most idotic thing that happens. I have a few examples where I have to literally stop my car on the middle of the road and go and have a pep talk with the other moron. There is one particluar incident that happened a month back. This guy in a Santro was tail gating me and was honking and I gave him the way but that stupid was talking on the phone and didnt use the oppertunity and started honking again. By this time I had a 407 infront of me and there was heavy oncoming traffic . There is no way this guy can get past me and he started honking nonstop. My patiendce really went out of my head and I stopped my car in the middle of the road and rolled down the driver window and told him that if he honks at me again I will give him a piece of my mind:rules:. After that he just follwed my car like a puppy and didnt even dare to honk at me or any other person persay. I gave way for him to overtake me and was following him close to 4KM. I didnt hear his car horn even during heavy traffic during the above said 4 Km Stretch. I am not saying that this is the correct way to handle these morans.. Its just an expereince from my side which happened out of the blue. All the said time I never lost my coolness and was never showing any anger towards the other driver. I dont practice or encourage road rage.
I totally agree with the 'not being defensive' driving style. Once these drivers know that you are being defensive, they pounce on u like blood thirty wolves. I have noticed many a times, once you give way to one vehicle, at least 5 or 6 vehicles overtake you with blaring horn. Part of our upbringing - Not so harmfull
You talk about TN 23+ numbers. You have really be in the situation to understand. Once I drove my cousins TN 32 car in chennai. Man I was ragged on the roads or what. I dint understand first why every one where staring at me when they were passing. Every small move you make, you are countered with 4 moves by four different vehicles. Our chennai drivers, may fight with each to the bone, but when it comes to outsiders, they support each our.:)
- Not so harmfull. Part of ur culture.
Auto fellas. What can we say about these super humans. There is onliner that can describe them in tamil 'Cycle gaple Auto ottrathu' meaning - Driving a auto in a space that is only enough for a Cycle. - Not so harmfull. Rajini of our roads.
IT cars and buses. These are guys from hell. I know how these guys are picked. I have seen them. 99% of them are from Rural background, learnt driving with Tractors or Vans. Given them a refined turbo or CRDi engine, they think there are invincible. - so very harmful
I feel, the great part of chennai road experience is left out by leaving out our famous Water Lorry. James Bond of Chennai - Licensed to Kill.
Whenever I take the car to office, I have to start 10 minutes early to negotiate this part. If I take the bike, this poses no problem so I generally prefer the bike for commuting to work. Takes me just 25 minutes from home to office, including the detour to drop my wife.
Well i travel to Ambathur everyday from T.Nagar. I never dared to drive my car! I prefer to drive my so called cheap Discover 100 DTS-si. It is highly irritating to drive all these 24 odd Kms every day!. I take 30 minutes one way to reach my Ambathur office.! traffic in chennai makes you old!
People driving cars in these roads are equally dangerous! especially the indicas! Indica drivers treat their cars as bikes! and are worse than the so called M80, TVS champs / TVS 50s!
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