Safe Driving Tips: Indian Ghats & Highways!!

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India is a land with immeasurable natural beauty, much of which is still untapped!! Just waiting there to be explored!!

India has many scenic roads. Few among the best are:

Manali to Leh

Leh to Tso Moriri

Gulmarg Road (of Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary, J&K)

Chandigarh to Dalhousie

Manebhanjan to Sandakphu

Kaziranga to Tawang

Mumbai to Goa (NH17)

Mumbai to Pune (Expressway)

East Cost Road (Chennai to Cuddalore via Pondicherry)

Masinagudi to Ooty (via Kalhatty)

Udumalpet to Munnar

Kottayam to Kumily

During the last eight to ten years, the overall scenario in India for the Driving Enthusiast has improved a lot. Luxurious vehicles capable of conquering toughest of terrains have been introduced and the quality of roads has also been improved!!

But in spite of all this, unfortunately, the statics relating to road accidents in India has largely remained unchanged.

With the help of a report, presented in July 2013 by the Transport Research Wing (TRW) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, titled ‘Road Accidents in India, 2012’ it can be determined that:

- One accident takes place in India almost every minute!

- Because of an accident, every four minutes one person dies on our roads!

According to the report, in the year 2012:

- National Highways accounted for 29.1% of total road accident in the country and 35.3% of total road deaths in the country.

- State Highways accounted for 24.2% of total road accident in the country and 27.3% of total road deaths in the country.

- 78.7% of total accidents were caused because of Negligence/ Fault of the Driver, where as a mere 1.4% of total accidents were caused because of Defect in Road Conditions & a mere 0.9% of total accidents were caused because of Bad Weather Conditions.

- Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh combined accounted for 55.5% of total accidents in the country.

- Only Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu combined accounted for 27.3% of total accidents in the country.

(Source: Road Accidents in India, 2012 by TRW

To enjoy the beautiful and scenic roads of India, a car owner must care not only about his own safety, but also about the safety of his fellow passengers and the safety of others using the road.

A famous American author, Greg Anderson once said, ‘Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.’

Hence, in order to enjoy the journey one should have the knowledge and skills required to tackle the Great Indian Highway!!

I consider myself to be a novice, when it comes to driving on the National/ State Highways.

Negotiating the ghats and dealing with the sharp and dangerous hairpin bends is not an easy task. At least not for me!

Therefore, I am here today, requesting all my fellow readers and enthusiasts to participate in this discussion and share their individual experiences, driving techniques, useful tips, pointers etc., which would help any novice like me and many others out there reading this thread to tackle the Great Indian Highway with required skills and knowledge!!




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Good topic there Shashank backed with statistics. Interestingly the most scenic roads mentioned have been drawn & laid during the British era. Even widening has been carried on a few out of them later.

& there lies the answer to the statistics mentioned in your post. Infrastructure viz. the Population & vehicular explosion has been hugely inadequate. Lacking infrastructure coupled with lack of education, no fear of law, etc. make for a deadly concoction.

Well the facts about India won't end there & could go on forever but moving on to the helpful bit that could improve the situation both intrinsically & extrinsically;

Choose a safe vehicle: This is the single most important aspect overlooked by most. While selecting a vehicle for yourself & your family, lay emphasis on safety. Check & cross-examine whether the vehicle has been crash-tested, if the body is crash worthy or not. Then look for safety equipment like, Airbags, ABS, etc.

Using the vehicle: Keep your vehicle well-maintained at all times, properly serviced & looked after. Tyres have to be in top nick with right air pressure, don't do any additional electrical fittings in your vehicle, keep it as stock as possible. This will minimize the chances of electrical failures & inadvertent fires.

Don't overload your vehicle with both passengers & luggage, stick to manufacturer specifications for the same. If theres a child on-board, don't make him sit in your lap. Either attach a child safety seat or fasten the seat belt for a snug fit.

All passengers should wear seat belts at all times. Do not place objects on car dash or elsewhere, these can turn into lethal missiles in case of a crash. Could also hamper the air-bags deployment.

Now for on the road scenario, I will add a few lines later...

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Nice topic. Indian roads are one of the world's most dangerous roads. So safety should be a prime factor in the cars today. ABS and Airbags are must. Today, we drive safer cars on safer roads; decades of advertisements and public information campaigns have made most of us safer drivers. As a result, the U.S. logged the lowest accident fatality rate ever recorded in 2008 [source: NHTSA]. Despite this progress, unfortunately, the number of auto accidents and fatalities nationwide is still quite staggering: In 2008, there were almost 6 million car accidents in the U.S., leading to more than 37,000 deaths. What's more, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of three and 34 in this country. Improvements in technology will continue to help bring those numbers down, but the bottom line remains that most car accidents are the result of human error.

  1. Don’t Drink and drive - More than 30 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the United States involve drivers impaired by alcohol. These accidents led to 11,773 deaths in 2008 alone [source: NHTSA]. Most of those deaths could've been avoided if the drivers involved simply hadn't gotten behind the wheel while drunk.
  2. Don’t Over speed - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains the consequences of fast driving quite simply: "Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes. The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated by NHTSA to be $40.4 billion per year. In 2008, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 11,674 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes" [source: NHTSA].

For your average drive across town, driving even 10 mph (16.1 kph) faster is only going to save you a few minutes -- while increasing your crash risk by as much as 50 percent. Even on long trips, the time you'll save is inconsequential compared to the risks associated with speeding. Take your time and obey posted speed limits. If you really need to get there as fast as possible, there's one fool-proof solution: Leave earlier.

  1. Wear your seat belts-. Seat belts save lives. Worn properly, they prevent you from being thrown around the inside of a crashing vehicle or, worse, thrown through the windshield and flung completely out of the vehicle. NHTSA statistics reveal that more than half of all accident fatalities were people who weren't using seat belts [source: NHTSA]. The numbers are much scarier for young drivers and passengers: A staggering 70 percent of fatal crash victims between the ages of 13 and 15 weren't wearing seat belts
  2. Be extra careful on bad weather- If you're driving through fog, heavy rain, a snow storm or on icy roads, be extra cautious. Take all of the other tips presented here and make full use of them: Drive below the speed limit if necessary, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead, and be especially careful around curves. If you're driving through weather conditions you don't know well, consider delegating driving duties to someone who does, if possible. If the weather worsens, just find a safe place to wait out the storm.

It's impossible to list all the possible things another driver might do, but there are a few common examples. If you're pulling out of a driveway into traffic and an oncoming car has

  1. Practice Defensive Driving- This tip is pretty simple to understand if we just put the proverbial shoe on the other foot. Remember that one time when that jerk came flying down the street out of nowhere, totally cut you off and almost caused a huge accident? Don't be that jerk.

Aggressive driving is hard to quantify, but it definitely increases the risk of accidents. Studies show that young male drivers are more likely to drive aggressively [source: NCHRP]. An aggressive driver does more than just violate the tips in this article -- they may intentionally aggravate other drivers, initiate conflict, use rude gestures or language, tailgate or impede other cars, or flash their headlights out of frustration. These behaviours aren't just annoying, they're dangerous. :) :) (Source -

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Much useful topic Shashank_GTO. I am also a novice as far as driving (especially in ghat road) is considered. Always obey the basic traffic rules. Some of those rules may seem childish on other roads. But on ghat roads every rule prove to be vey much needed. Some small points that i think effective are:

1. Always give preference to safety than economy driving (use gears appropriately).

2. Dont overtake on curves.

3. Use horn wherever its needed.

4. Always think that there are vehicles behind ours, so give proper indicators/hand signals so that it will be helpful for others. For eg: when someone tries to overtake you please give them the proper signals or when you are about to stop the car to enjoy the beauty of nature, then turn on indicators and park the car properly without affecting the traffic.

5. Use optimal braking so that the brakepads dont get overheat and cause the loss of brake in an emergency situation.


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Nice topic Shashank_GTO, the previous posts are very informative and sum up the safety precautions that are needed on our roads. Although our statistics show that most accidents are caused by driver error, the actual scenario is otherwise. Driver error is only the immediate cause and the root causes are bad infrastructure and poor driver training. Indian driving lessons are literally non-existent and those "fortunate" enough to take some are exposed to nothing but a waste of time. The actual learning is on the road, unfortunately for us. So some develop their own driving habits and pick up a few bad ones.

Some points that I'd like to highlight are:


The use of mirrors is totally undervalued in India, unlike the UK where they would insist to check (literally wring your neck) them every few seconds (all three). The passenger ORVM in India is usually absent or folded away (for the "safety" of the mirror!), and these are particularly important in highway driving and lane changes. An ideal way of overtaking a vehicle and coming back to the lane is when you have a full view of the other vehicle in your central mirror. We are used to cutting in front of the other vehicle after overtaking (mostly in the nick of time to escape the on-coming vehicle), which is a dangerous practice. I'm surprised that even Mercedes Benz in India, for all its songs for the sake of a high safety record, would offer a useless plane mirror instead of a convex one on the passenger ORVM - for cutting costs!

Blind Spots

A lot of emphasis is given on blind spots in the UK for driver training. Blind spots are those areas of the car which is hidden from direct view or by the mirrors. Unless you have a sophisticated high end car which has cameras all around along with sensors, blind spots can be tackled only by the odd way of turning your head and looking over your shoulder. Checking blind spots is critical in lane changing maneuvers on highways, and one slight overlook could lead to disaster, as high speed is involved.

As mentioned in posts above, in a manual transmission, engine braking must be used in ghat roads while descending. The thumb rule is that the car must be in the same gear whether climbing or descending, to get adequate engine braking. Relying solely on the brakes would be folly, and regular mountain road drivers would vouch for that.

As a rule, I generally avoid night driving in India, on unknown roads. There are so many unknown obstacles and dangers, unmarked road-works and careless truck drivers waiting for a disaster. Most of the fatal accidents happen at night, also contributed by sleeping on the wheel. Until the infrastructure in India is raised to global standards, I'd rather stay safe and stick to daytime driving!

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