8 Common Myths about Traffic Rules in India

Traffic accidents in India are a pretty common occurrence. India has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world. As per the data provided by the Indian Road Congress, a road accident takes place in India every 4 minutes. Most of these accidents could be avoided if traffic rules had been followed properly. The decade 2011-2020 has been declared as the ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety’ by the United Nations. Proper knowledge of traffic rules and signs is absolutely essential and a must for any person who drives a vehicle on the roads of India. As important as it is to know the traffic rules, it is also crucial to bust some of the traffic myths that have become so ingrained that they seem like the truth. Let us take a look at some of the myths surrounding traffic rules and signs in our country.

  1. Traffic lights are switched off at night:

    One of the most common myths surrounding traffic rules and signs is that traffic lights are switched off at night and there is no requirement for the vehicle driver to stop at the intersection. Even if there is no traffic police at the intersection and the traffic lights are operational, it is important for the vehicle driver to follow the rules and wait patiently if the red light is lit and go ahead only when the traffic light turns to green. This should be taken even more seriously because accidents at night are more common than accidents in the day.
  2. Reverse driving on a two-way street is okay:

    The concept of a one-way street in India is not understood by many. There are many drivers who drive in the reverse direction on a one-way street and think that it is okay to do so. Doing this could lead to a fatal road accident. What matters on a one-way street is the direction of the flow of the traffic rather than the direction in which the vehicle is being driven. That is why driving in the reverse direction on a one-way street is punishable by law and a hefty fine has to be paid for the same. It is absolutely prohibited.
  3. Overtaking another vehicle from the left side:

    This is another common myth that most drivers in India think is true. Overtaking another vehicle from the left-hand side is prohibited and should never be practised. It should be done only from the right hand side. The only instance in which a driver is not allowed to overtake another vehicle from the right side is when the driver of the vehicle that is to be overtaken has indicated that he or she will take a right turn. In this situation, the driver can overtake from the left. Other things to be kept in mind while overtaking another vehicle is that the driver of a vehicle should indicate if he or she is about to take a turn by using the indicator. It is important for the driver to understand the rules while overtaking another.
  4. The parking of the vehicle:

    The less said about the parking situation in India, the better. People tend to park their vehicles in any space they find as long as the towing vehicle is not in sight. There are certain places which do have the ‘No Parking’ sign which means that parking in those areas is strictly prohibited contrary to what is exhibited by the people in this country. Other places where common sense should prevail regarding no parking include road crossing, on a walking footpath or on the hill top, near pedestrian crossing or traffic light, road having heavy traffic or on a main road, opposite or in the front of another vehicle parked to cause any obstruction, on white line roads, near hospital entrance, school or bus stop, next to the traffic signal, at any buildings entrance.
  5. Wearing a seat belt does not matter:

    This is another myth that needs to be busted. Wearing a seat belt in a road accident can prove to be the difference between life and death. Most people do not care enough to put on a seat belt when going for a ride through a small street or lane thinking that it is unnecessary. Accidents can occur anywhere whether it be a small street or lane or the national highway. Therefore seat belt should be worn at all times. As per data collected, wearing a seat belt can reduce the chances of death in a road accident by 50%.
  6. Drunk driving is fine:

    Many Indians believe that having a ‘little amount’ of alcohol in the body and driving is fine with that ‘little amount’ being undefined. As per the law created by the government, the legal amount of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in a person’s blood is 30 mg per 100 ml or 0.03%. Generally speaking, after the second drink, most adults cross that legal mark meaning any drinking activity would result in crossing that limit. A lot of people in India also have that belief that consuming food while or after drinking alcohol would probably result in lowering the alcohol level in the body which is a myth and not true. The food might decrease the level by 10-20% but not more than that. Therefore it is best not to drink and drive as it might cause death as well when caught would lead to a heavy fine and even imprisonment.
  7. High beam can be used whenever the driver wants:

    Another myth that needs to be busted is the usage of high beam. It is not something that can be used anytime the driver wants. It is to be only used when the road is not at well lit and there is absolute requirement for the usage of high beam. It should only be used when the road is really dark such as in the rural areas to prevent the vehicle from hitting pedestrians or bike riders. The usage of high beam is restricted because whenever a vehicle is coming from the opposite direction to the vehicle in question, the lights of the vehicle should be dimmed to prevent the driver in the vehicle from being blinded.
  8. Using mobile phone while driving:

    The usage of mobile phone while driving is already banned by the government but many still argue that using a hands-free device is safe enough and should be allowed to use. Wearing a headset while driving the vehicle is almost as dangerous as talking on the phone as it will block out any noise coming from the outside such as the horn or the sound of another vehicle passing by. This could cause a major catastrophe on the road.
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