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Defensive Driving in developing world

Updated on June 5, 2014

Driving safely on roads in developed countries

Ever had the opportunity of driving on a crowded street of a developing country? Lucky you if you have not. Living in one of such countries I have to experience this ordeal every time I get on the road. With increasing populations that are growing at a much faster rate than ROW, the problem is only getting worse. Ah, how much do I miss the school days when I could pedal my way to school on a bike. It is unimaginable to do that now. I dare not ask my kids to try it either.

Anyhow there is some order in this disorder also. So, perchance you have to drive yourself, here is some advice for you.

  • Disregard of traffic rules is a generally accepted norm. You are the one who has to follow them.
  • Too much traffic congestion. You may have encountered traffic congestion and jams back home but brother I can bet you would not have seen anything like this. The pic here will give you some idea.p
  • Variety of traffic of all types and speeds e.g.

-Pedestrians- in the absence of zebra crossings ( they are, more often than not, ignored even where provided), they are at liberty to cross the street from any convenient location. So, don't be surprised if someone from nowhere lands in front of your vehicle.

- Manually driven vehicles. Include animal and man driven. They are beyond any rules. However because of their slow speed, not difficult to manage.

-Two and three wheelers. Most difficult to manage. They masterly manoeuvre through difficult openings and are a major hazard, especially because of their sheer number.

  • Condition of roads. Main roads are generally in good condition. Side roads may not. Broken, uneven, unlit, number of speed breakers and water pools, add to the hazards mentioned above.

What should you do?

The best bet would be NOT TO DRIVE YOURSELF. Leave it to the local expert by hiring a taxi or a chauffeur-driven rented car, especially if you are used to driving on different side of the road. That may not always be possible and in that case you may find the following tips helpful:

  • Traffic signal jumping is taken as a norm especially by the motorbike and rickshaw drivers. Take care even if the light on your side has turned green. Human and animal driven vehicles are no different but their slow speeds may give you some leeway.
  • Lane crossing and criss-crossing is quite common. Watch out carefully while changing lanes or making turns.
  • Motorbikes and even some cars may be running without lights at night. Manual driven vehicles will have lights only in exception. You have to keep your eyes (and ears!) wide open. Situation is made worse by poorly-lit streets. BETTER NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT.
  • Do not expect the vehicle coming from the other side to lower it's beam (i.e if it has one)at night. During daytime seeing flashing by a vehicle means 'DO not come my way'.
  • Honking is quite common. You are only yourself to blame if you fail to hoot and hit another vehicle.
  • Do not trust flashing turn signals. You have to anticipate what that driver means.
  • No matter what the rules say there is no Right of Way.

We hope these tips will help you in avoiding accidents. However if you do get involved in one try to settle the matter with the other guy before a policeman moves in. More on it later


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Would you dare driving under such conditions?

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