Tips to take care when driving on Indian highways

Recently, I happened to go a highway drive and trust me, I was dreading using that highway. It was in such a disdain state the last time I had traveled through it that I ended so exhausted that I had to take leave from work for two days. However since that was the only highway connecting me to my destination, I had to use it. This time around, I was pretty much mentally prepared about driving on that road. But boy oh boy! The highway had actually been repaired and the fresh coat of tar looked like it was put in there just a few days back. Needless to say, I enjoyed the drive. However during the driving, I happened to witness certain accidents and some near ones as well. This put a thought into me that we need to have a certain article about bringing forth the requirements when one is driving on the highway. These tips don’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be an accident since you can never say about the driver behind or ahead of you, however, the tips would atleast be a prevention measure from your own end. Here are a few tips for the same.

The first sign of prevention is that you need to have all your documents related to the car and driving, in place. Many a times, there are random checks happening on the highway by the traffic police. If you don’t have the documents in place and don’t even feel like paying the price for the same, then its obvious that you would try to flee the moment that the police man flags you down to stop. This would result in a feared driving style which would be detrimental to both you and the ones tailing you. So the documents that need to be there with you are an updated insurance policy of the car, your valid driving license, registration documents and also the updated PUC certificate (if it’s a new car, then you needn’t take the PUC certificate since a new car comes with a factory rated 6 months PUC certificate from the time of purchase).

Many sections of the highways have their dividers broken into. This happens when a careless truck driver happens to bang his vehicle against the divider resulting in the wall breaking at that point. In India, there are many villages lined close to the highways. Many of the locals create a passage point through the dividers for their tractors and stuff to pass through. Some sections may be marked or they may not be. However these gaps shouldn’t be taken lightly. People crossing the roads actually don’t look at both the sides of the road. Continuous honking and even flashing the lights ensure that you are visible to them and they would look before they leap. As far as possible, drive through the middle section of the road. If suppose some pedestrian does try to cross from the broken side of the divider, you would have enough of time to react or stop the car.

On the highway, there are chances that you would meet slow moving trucks and some other slower vehicles. These actually present a safety hazard. Do keep one thing in mind. Overtaking them takes a whole lot of effort. These big vehicles don’t respond to sudden steering movements and it takes a whole lot of effort to steer them. Moreover the driver of the truck has to endure his own blind spots. Make sure that you make yourselves visible in his rear view mirror plus honk as loudly as you can. Flashing your pass lights also helps. Avoid tailgating the trucks. As early as possible, once you get the chance, complete the overtaking procedure. Once the overtaking maneuver is done, wave your hand as a “Thank You” gesture.

Nowadays, the Government of India is very keen on improving infrastructure and hence you would find many sections of the road under repair and diversions being used dime a dozen. In this case, its necessary that a constant manageable speed be maintained. Watch out for diversion signs carefully and try and follow the vehicles which are ahead of you. Road rollers, heavy equipment, construction material, workers and debris as it is make driving on the highways treacherous and add to that rash speeding drivers. A sure shot recipe for disaster. In this case, overtaking maneuvers should be avoided and that too in places where there is no divider. Moreover, if you end up driving in closed areas, the police have every right to arrest or even fine you.

Speed limits is another factor which could lead you into trouble. The general Indian tendency is to turn a blind eye to the speed limits as the Indian traffic police or even the authorities don’t have functional speed cameras. However, beware of one thing. The Indian Government has recognized this and now, the traffic police have got high tech speed cameras which will instantly tell them the speed that you are traveling at and also by how much have you crossed the limit. So, in order to avoid the fines, it is advisable to adhere to the speed limit. Adhering to the speed limit in the right gear also helps bump fuel efficiency.

Drinking and driving is a strict no-no, be it in the city or on the highway. Many think that they have a huge capacity to absorb drinks however rarely do they know that, however light the drink may be or even if they have a big capacity to down drinks, alcohol affects the functioning of the brain. If at all, you have to drive back after downing a drink, be sure to carry along a buddy who doesn’t drink and knows how to drive properly. Or the best thing is to hire a taxi. This practice of drinking and driving is not taken lightly by the traffic police and you would be fined or arrested as also the vehicle would be impounded. Even a light drink would slow your reaction to the elements.

Headlamps at all the times have to be kept clean and do adjust your head lamps in such a way that you don’t blind the oncoming traffic. Newer cars nowadays come with Xenon lamps which do a very good job of illuminating the road ahead but also end up hampering the vision of fellow road users coming from the opposite side. This leads to accidents. Most of the new age cars come with a headlamp leveling feature which is very useful in adjusting the headlight beam. Switch to high beams only when there is no oncoming traffic and the low beam doesn’t help matters. Also the high beam should be adjusted to be on the lowest setting.

If you happen to be living somewhere close to Kashmir, then chances are that you would require snow chains. Once the necessary snow chains have been procured, you would have to look out for a “Do It Yourself” experience by practicing to put them on the car’s tyres at home. Well, that is unless you are okay practicing that atop a hill with your hands ready to be numb. Fluids in the car also need to be those which can easily bear lower temperatures. Moreover the tyre pressure has to be lowered to be enable more traction.

These were some of the tips that have been shared for a safe highway driving. Other than that, the small things include taking a rest before the journey commences and also carrying energy boosting eatables like energy drinks or chocolates. Moreover being on a light diet, while driving, helps in staying alert. A co-passenger sleeping next to the driver is a big no-no. Also avoid driving at night times, if you could. Most of the accidents happen during night time.

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