TOTW: Traffic behaviour in Bangalore

I just created a new category: the topic of the week, or TOTW. It will contain observations of what struck me as interesting in this week. And I can’t resist, I just have to start with the way Indians drive.

Even though there exist some traffic rules somewhere, noone seems to care. Especially the right of way is determined by the size of the vehicle, the amount of blowing the horn, and whoever gives up first. That usually leads to a great confusion on crossroads during traffic peaks, because noone is willing to wait and let someone else drive first. Sometimes you can find traffic cops or private security people with their white gloves (it’s hard to see dark-skinned Indians gesturing in the night) on crossroads, but only on the big ones and during peak hours.

Another interesting fact is the amount of lanes on a road. On roads with seperate lanes per direction, you usually have three marked lanes. In times of heavy traffic, Bangaloreans make five lanes out of this. And even when there is low traffic, you cannot expect anyone to actually drive on the lanes. Also, when they hit a traffic jam, Bangaloreans will always switch lanes, or try to.

When you have no separation between the different directions, lanes are allocated freely. So instead of the marked one lane in each direction, youn can happen to have four lanes into one direction, and sometimes a single car squeezing through into the other direction.

The favourite pasttime of Indians driving a car is sounding the horn. It can mean

  • I’m passing you
  • Hey, don’t move to the right/left, I’m driving there
  • Move over, I want to pass
  • Careful, you pedestrian there, I’m coming
  • Look, an empty road, let’s celebrate that
  • (when heading towards a junction) I’m coming, and I do not intend to break
  • I have reason at all, but I might forget how to do it

And, of course, not to forget, signaling change of lane of direction. Bangaloreans do not use the signals (if they have them). They use the hands. Even when driving a truck. Most trucks and buses have a passenger, whose only job is to signal. And sometimes they signal to the right and move to the left…

Please, don’t rely on these descriptions when you drive here. And dont’t try to sue me if you do and fail 😉

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