• What are the Traffic Signs and Rules in India?

    Understanding traffic signs is essential. Traffic signs act as silent conductors of the traffic on the road. Any person who holds a driving licence and is eligible to drive a vehicle should have proper knowledge of traffic signs. The government has made it mandatory for any person who wants to obtain a driving licence to be well-versed with the traffic signs.

    Types of traffic signs

    There are numerous traffic signs and each has its own purpose. The various traffic safety signs have been divided into three categories. They are:

    • Traffic signs that are mandatory: As the name suggests, the first category of traffic signs is mandatory signs which perform the function of ensuring the smooth operation of the traffic on the road. These traffic signs also make sure that the drivers on the road follow the instructions on it. Violation of any mandatory traffic sign is an offence punishable by law as per the Roadways and Transport department. The traffic signs images are displayed below:
    • Mandatory Traffic Signs
    • Traffic signs that are cautionary: A total of 40 cautionary traffic signs have been added by the Roadways and Transport department. The main function of cautionary traffic signs is to warn the driver of the potential danger on the road ahead so that the driver can take necessary action to react to the situation. Cautionary Traffic Signs
    • Traffic signs that provide information: Informatory traffic signs provide information to the driver via the boards. The information maybe about:
    • Information Traffic Signs
    1. The distance left to cover to reach a specific destination.
    2. Alternative routes to the specific destination, if any.
    3. Locations on the cautionary traffic signs are also displayed such as schools, colleges, workplaces, clubs, public places and restaurants.

    Functions of traffic signs

    Knowledge of traffic signs for any driver is necessary as they perform certain functions which are essential for road safety. The functions performed by traffic signs are:

    1. The distance left to cover to reach a specific destination.
    2. Alternative routes to the specific destination, if any.
    3. Locations on the cautionary traffic signs are also displayed such as schools, colleges, workplaces, clubs, public places and restaurants.

    Importance of Traffic Signs in Daily Life

    • As per statistics provided by the government, 400 accidents occur in India every day.
    • Also, as per the data provided by WHO, traffic crashes cost about 3% of the total gross domestic product of a country on average.
    • So the importance of knowing the traffic signs and rules is essential.
    • Traffic signs prevent the undesirable risks posed on the road to drivers and the passengers in the vehicle.
    • Traffic signs make sure that order has ensued on the road and if the signs are followed properly, the chances of accidents occurring are greatly minimised.
    • Traffic signs also help in easy navigation of the routes.

    The importance of traffic signs and road rules cannot be ignored in one’s life and it should be given paramount importance. Any driver who is driving a vehicle on the road should be aware of all the traffic signs and rules. The government has already made it mandatory for any person who wishes to obtain a driving licence in India for the different traffic signs and rules.

    Traffic rules in India

    Aside from the traffic signs that are displayed by the government to ensure road safety and smooth operation of the traffic, other traffic signs such as road safety signs and rules have to be displayed and followed by the driver while driving. The list of these rules and signs is mentioned below:

    • On a two-way road, the driver must drive on the left side of the road so that the oncoming traffic from the other direction can pass through smoothly.
    • For one-way roads, the driver should allow any vehicle overtaking his or her vehicle through the right.
    • If the driver is turning left, he or she should ensure that the vehicle should be on the left side of the road while leaving and entering the road.
    • If the driver is turning right, he or she should drive the vehicle to the centre of the road that he or she is leaving and drive to the right side of the road that he or she is entering gradually.
    • It is mandatory for the driver to slow down at all inter junctions, pedestrian crossings, intersections and road crossings.
    • If the driver is driving the vehicle on a main road that has does not have traffic regulation, he or she has to allow the vehicles to overtake from the right side.
    • Hand signals are an important part of traffic signs as well. Some of them are:
    1. When the driver is slowing down his vehicle, he or she has to extend the right arm and swing it up and down gently.
    2. When the driver is stopping his or her vehicle, he or she has to raise the arm vertically for indication to the other vehicles behind it.
    3. If the driver is turning right or switching to a lane on the right side, he or she has to extend the arm straight out with the palm facing front.
    4. If the driver is turning left or switching to a lane on the left hand side, he or she has to rotate the hand in the anti-clockwise direction.
    • Every vehicle is equipped with direction indicators which should be used instead of hand signals. In case of emergency, the hazard indicator should be used which will switch on both indicators.
    • It is mandatory for the driver and the pillion rider on a two-wheeler vehicle to wear a helmet. It is necessary for the helmet to have the ISI mark otherwise a fine will be levied on the rider.
    • The driver is advised to not park his or her vehicle near a road crossing, on top of a hill, footpath, near traffic lights, on the pedestrian road, on the entrance of a building or a near a fire hydrant.
    • The registration number of the vehicle is to be visible at all times.
    • The vehicle should not be loaded in such a way that the any of the lights are obstructed. This is done to maintain road safety and avoid any mishaps on the road.
    • The driver should not drive in the reverse direction on a one-way road.
    • The driver should not cross the yellow line marked on the road even while overtaking another vehicle.
    • If the driver is driving the vehicle on a road with defined lanes, the indicator should be used before switching lanes.
    • The driver should not cross the STOP line painted on the road.
    • The driver should use the horn only when required to reduce noise pollution. Also the horn should not sound really shrill or loud.
    • While driving, the driver should maintain a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front of him or her to avoid collision if the other vehicle slows down or stops suddenly.
    • Unless an emergency, the driver should avoid sudden breaking.
    • While driving on a mountain or a steep hill, the vehicle that is going upwards should be on the right side.
    • While driving a tractor or a goods vehicle, the driver should not exceed the number of passengers permitted in the vehicle.
    • While carrying goods on a vehicle, the driver must be careful not to overload more than the capacity. Also, no explosives or inflammable goods are allowed on a public service vehicle.
    • On a two-wheeler, only one pillion rider is allowed.
    • The driver must not forget that the road is not only for motor vehicles. The drivers should make way for cyclists as well.
    • Overtaking should only be done from the right side of the vehicle.
    • If another vehicle is overtaking your vehicle, do not increase the speed. It can cause confusion which can lead to disastrous results.
    • The driver should observe other vehicles in the rear view mirror before making a U-turn. He or she should also signal U-turn via hand.
    • The driver should be alert when the amber light is flashed.

    Updated traffic rules in India

    Traffic rules ensure safety on the roads and prevent accidents from occurring. The government has levied various fines on violation of traffic rules, but with more and more number of vehicles operating on Indian roads every day, there is a need for the traffic rules to be updated continuously. The government has a unique research and development department for this purpose. The objective of such a department is to ensure that there is traffic discipline on the road and it can operate smoothly.

    The new traffic rules have been implemented in different regions of the country with varying effects. The residents should be aware of the new and updated traffic rules as well so that they do not violate any. The newly updated traffic rules laid down by the research and development department are as follows:

    • In Uttarakhand, if any driver is caught talking on mobile phone while driving then along with the fine levied on him or her, the traffic police can also take possession of the mobile phone and keep it in custody for 24 hours after issuing a valid receipt to the offender. The Nainital high court issued the order.
    • In Rajasthan, any person found violating any of the traffic laws such as talking on the phone while driving will be punishable under law and his or her driving licence will be confiscated and cancelled at the same RTO (Regional transport office) by the government where it was issued. Jodhpur bench of Rajasthan high court has issued the order. The photograph of the person who has violated the law in addition to his or her details will be sent to the respective RTO from which he or she obtained the driving licence.
    • Different cities in the country like Pune and Bengaluru have banned the use of loud silencers on motorbikes such as the Royal Enfield. The loud silencers which are already illegal are a source of noise pollution and reduce the efficiency and performance of the vehicle as well. These loud silencers are also a cause of safety hazard.
    • As per the new Motor Vehicle Act, any person who is found watching a video while driving a motor vehicle in India is bound to be punished by law. With many vehicles now providing the riders in it the option to watch videos while travelling, it becomes common for many drivers to drive the vehicle and watch the video at the same time. This multitasking has already resulted in many accidents due to the driver’s focus not being entirely on driving the vehicle.
    • Another updated traffic rule is the banning of parking a vehicle in front of rescue vehicles such as an ambulance, fire truck or a police vehicle. If any person is found doing so, he or she is punishable by law and has to pay Rs.2000 or more as fine depending on the city where he or she resides.
    • A law that has been set by the road and transport authority of India is that no person can be fined for the same offence twice unless the offence is overspeeding although the new modification in the law is that if the offender loses the receipt for the fine paid and he or she is driving the vehicle in another state then the fine has to be paid again.

    The newly updated traffic rules will not only ensure the smooth operation of traffic on the roads will also reduce the possibility of any accidents occurring on the road.

    FAQs on Traffic Signs and Rules in India

    1. Are hand signals important part of traffic signs in India?

      Yes, hand signals play an important part of traffic signs in the country.

    2. What should a driver do when the amber light is flashed?

      In case, the amber light is flashed, the driver should become alert.

    3. Can I be charged if my helmet does not have the ISI mark?

      Yes, traffic police can impose a fine on you, if the helmet does not have the ISI mark.

    4. What is the main function of traffic signs?

      The main function of traffic signs is to ensure smooth operations of traffic on the roads.

    5. Is it necessary to be well-versed with traffic signs to obtain a driving license in India?

      Yes, you need to be well-versed with the traffic signs, if you want to obtain a driving license in the country. You will be tested on it during the learners license test.

    News about The Traffic signs and Rules in India

    • Online portal launched by LTO for driver license transactions

      An online portal has been launched by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for the renewal of driver’s license. The online portal will be available in 254 LTOs across India. According to the Department of Transportation, individuals must process their driver’s license applications on the Land Transport Management System (LTMS). Currently, the portal only allows for the application of new and renewal of licenses. Certain other miscellaneous transactions are also allowed. On completing the registration procedure on portal.lto.gov.ph., individuals can book an appointment as well as pay for several driving license transactions. Currently, the LTO portal is a pilot test and will gradually be launched as the agency looks to make it the new normal because of the coronavirus outbreak. The LTMS is looking to reduce physical contact because of COVID-19 and individuals can make transactions online.

      1 July 2020

    • Violating traffic rules could revoke your driving licence for 3 months

      Navi Mumbai police has said that repeated offenders on the road will be punished with their licence being revoked for at least for a period of 3 months. Currently around 1,085 traffic offenders are at the risk of losing their licence. More than a 100 licences have been suspended already with 400 traffic department personnel keeping a track of any offences that are committed on the road. The drive to suspend licence of the regular offenders has come about from the great number of fatal accidents that have occured in Navi Mumbai recently.

      Some of the offences for which the traffic police will revoke the licence of the offenders are jumping red lights for which 548 cases have been registered, talking on the mobile phone while driving for which 325 cases have been registered, drunk driving for which 199 cases have been registered and riding two wheeler without wearing a helmet. Currently, the Mumbai traffic police department has stationed 400 officials to issue challans and send details to the RTO about the suspension of the driving licences.   

      18 December 2018

    • In a new initiative, government to release real time accident videos

      In a new initiative, the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways will release real time accident videos which can be seen by the general public. The government believes that showing original videos of accidents will help raise awareness about the hazards of road commute. As per the Union Road Transport secretary, YS Malick, the original videos will have much more of an impact on the commuters than any advisory issued by the government. Malick also said that similar initiatives had been conducted in Australia and United Kingdom with the results being successful.

      With the number of deaths caused by road accidents in India ever increasing, the government is taking steps to curb it. The government believes that showing real time videos of accidents will instigate the public to question themselves about following road safety rules. Rather than the public adhering to the traffic rules, it is more important to change the thought process.     

      25 September 2018

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