The Driving in India Act Amendment

The following is the updated version of “The Driving in India Act”.


The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.


Indian traffic, like Indian society, is structured on a strict caste system. The following precedence must be accorded at all times. In descending order, give way to:Cows, elephants, heavy trucks, buses, official cars, camels, light trucks, buffalo, jeeps, ox-carts, private cars, motorcycles, scooters, auto-rickshaws, pigs, pedal rickshaws, goats, bicycles (goods-carrying), handcarts, bicycles (passenger-carrying), dogs, pedestrians.


All wheeled vehicles shall be driven in accordance with the maxim:

to slow is to falter,

to brake is to fail,

to stop is defeat.

This is the Indian drivers’ mantra.


Use of horn (also known as the sonic fender or aural amulet):

Cars (IV,1,a-c):

1. Short blasts (urgent) indicate supremacy, i.e., in clearing dogs, rickshaws and pedestrians from path.

2. Long blasts (desperate) denote supplication, i.e., to oncoming truck: “I am going too fast to stop, so unless you slow down we shall both die”. In extreme cases this may be accompanied by flashing of headlights (frantic).

3. Single blast (casual) means: “I have seen someone out of India’s 870 million whom I recognise,” “There is a bird in the road (which at this speed could go through my windscreen),” or “I have not blown my horn for several minutes.”

Trucks and buses (IV,2,a):

A. All horn signals have the same meaning, viz: “I have an all-up weight of approximately 12.5 tons and have no intention of stopping, even if I could.” This signal may be emphasised by the use of headlamps.

ARTICLE V remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in Article II, above.

ARTICLE VI: All manoeuvres, use of horn and evasive action shall be left until the last possible moment.

ARTICLE VII: In the absence of seat belts (which there is), car occupants shall wear garlands of marigolds. These should be kept fastened at all times.


1. Rights of way: Traffic entering a road from the left has priority. So has traffic from the right, and also traffic in the middle.

2. Lane discipline (VII,1): All Indian traffic at all times and irrespective of direction of travel shall occupy the centre of the road.

ARTICLE IX: Roundabouts: India has no roundabouts.

Apparent traffic islands in the middle of crossroads have no traffic management function. Any other impression should be ignored.

ARTICLE X: Overtaking is mandatory. Every moving vehicle is required to overtake every other moving vehicle, irrespective of whether it has just overtaken you. Overtaking should only be undertaken in suitable conditions, such as in the face of oncoming traffic, on blind bends, at junctions and in the middle of villages/city centres. No more than two inches should be allowed between your vehicle and the one you are passing — and one inch in the case of bicycles or pedestrians.

ARTICLE XI: Nirvana may be obtained through the head-on crash.

ARTICLE XII: Reversing: no longer applicable since no vehicle in India has reverse gear.

This came to my attention via a forwarded email.


  1. arZan March 8, 2006


    I wrote a post about “HONKING: The National Past Time” on Metroblogging Mumbai, where i write regularly. Check it out.

  2. Michael H. March 8, 2006

    Hi Arzan
    You need to include under Article III
    “You must sound horn every 5 seconds!”

    My son calls driving in India a “beeping contest”

  3. Michael H. March 8, 2006

    Whoops! I didn’t see the rest underneath the fold!

    But the thing that really bothers me is the drivers who will drive head-on in the wrong lane and expect others to avoid him.

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