With new vehicles coming out each day and lot of new drivers behind the wheel, it is imperative that we get back to the basics and make sure we are following the rules and making sure everyone else we know is following the rules. No exceptions – if you are behind the wheel of a car or riding a two wheeler you have to know and follow the rules. All you new Tata Nano owners and first time drivers – this post is dedicated especially for you.
The source of these rules is the official website of the Department of Road Transport and Highways. The language on the government website is a bit convoluted and difficult to read and the rules are in separate PDF files which makes it tedious to read. I have tried to make the rules easy to understand and have consolidated them all into this post. These rules are referred to as the Rules of the Road Regulations, 1989 and came into effect from the first day of July 1989. Here they are:
- Keep Left: Drive as close to the left side of the road and allow all traffic going in the opposite direction to pass on the right hand side.
- Turning Left: When needing to turn onto a road on the left, stay close to the left side of the road and after making the turn continue on the left side of the road. (Do not cut across lanes from the right side of the road and then turn left).
- Turning Right: When turning onto a road on the right side, first approach the center of the road as safely as possible and then turn to the right and stay on the left side of the road.
- Passing: If there is a need to pass traffic proceeding in the same direction, always pass/overtake them on their right side. The only exception to this would be the case where a vehicle that is trying to turn to the right (and has indicated their intention to turn right) is occupying the center lane and therefore requires passing them on the left side.
- Passing Prohibited: Overtaking/passing a vehicle proceeding in the same direction is prohibited in the following scenarios:
- The passing/overtaking would cause inconvenience or danger to any vehicle proceeding in any direction.
- On bends/curves in the road or on hills or there are other obstructions present that prevents a clear view of the road ahead.
- If the driver behind the current vehicle has already started to overtake the vehicle
- The driver of the vehicle in front has not yet signaled that he may be overtaken. (
Please Note: The solid lines painted on the middle of the road indicate passing is prohibited for as long as the line is a solid line- you will notice them on bridges, curves and where visibility of the road ahead is not present. Overtaking when safe to do so is allowed when the line changes to a dashed line.)
- When being Passed/Overtaken by another vehicle: The driver should not speed up or do anything to prevent the other vehicle from passing.
- Intersections: Drivers should slow down when approaching road corners, intersections, junctions or pedestrian crossings and not enter until sure that such an entry will not endanger the safety of pedestrians or people in other vehicles there.
- Right of Way: When entering an intersection that is not regulated by a traffic signal or by a traffic policeman and which is an entry onto a main road, the driver of the vehicle is to give right of way to the vehicles already proceeding on that road. In all other cases the driver is to give way to traffic approaching from his right hand side and only then proceed.
- Emergency Vehicles: Fire Service Vehicles and Ambulances are to be allowed free passage and drivers of all other vehicles should move their vehicles to the side of the road to do so.
- Pedestrians: Pedestrians have the right of way at uncontrolled pedestrian crossings.
- “U” Turns: “U” turns may be done only when
- Not explicitly prohibited by a sign
- Only after indicating the turn is being planned either through a hand signal or through the vehicle indicators
- After checking the mirrors to make sure there is no traffic from behind
- Checking the road to make sure that there is no other traffic and it is safe to do so.
- Required Signals:These are really hand signals are mentioned in point 13 of the rules of the road. Very few people actually know the hand signs and use them. It is good to learn them and be prepared to use them if you have any issue with your indicator lights or with your brake lights. The hand signs for the following should be followed if the vehicle brake/indicator lights do not work:
- When the vehicle is about to slow down
- When the vehicle is about to stop
- When the vehicle is about to turn to the right side or pass a vehicle on the right
- When the vehicle is about to turn to the left
- When indicating that it is safe for the vehicle behind to pass
- Indicators: The signals indicated in regulation #13 can be simplified by the use of mechanical or electrical devices (indicators).
- Parking: When parking the vehicle make sure that it does not cause any danger, obstruction or inconvenience for other road users.
- Registration: Loads or goods should not be kept on the vehicle in a manner that obstructs visibility, the headlamps/tail lamps or the registration number of the vehicle. If any obstruction of the registration is done a duplicate is to be kept in a visible spot.
- One Way Roads: On designated “One Way” roads drive only in the direction indicated on the road signs. Do not drive the vehicle in reverse into a “One way” street.
- Stop Lines: At road intersections, pedestrian crossings and stop signs make sure that the vehicle is fully behind the stop lines painted on the road. The driver has to drive taking into account this requirement of stopping before the stop line when required by a stop light or sign or by a police officer.
- Towing:No vehicles may be towed behind another motor vehicle. The only exceptions are
- Mechanically disabled vehicles
- Incompletely assembled vehicles
- Registered trailers and sidecars
- The above may be towed only for the purpose of delivery or to the nearest garage or service station.
- Noise: Drivers should not
- Sound the horn more than necessary for safety. Continuously and unnecessary sounding of the horn is illegal.
- Sound the horn In designated silent zones ( for e.g. such as hospital zones )
- Use multi-toned horns that are harsh, shrill, loud or alarming
- Use cut outs for the exhausts
- Drive vehicles that create a lot of noise when in motion
- Drive vehicles without proper mufflers causing a loud sound
- Traffic Lights & Signs: Obey the traffic signal lights , the instructions given by the traffic policemen or by designated/authorized people in charge of regulating traffic
- Following Distance: Keep sufficient distance behind the vehicle in front to allow distance to stop if the vehicle in front has to stop suddenly.
- Right of Way on mountain roads/ steep roads: Where the width of the road is not sufficient for vehicles to pass each other safely, the vehicle going downhill has to stop to the side of the road and allow the vehicles going uphill to pass.
- Obstruction of Control: The driver of the vehicle should not allow a person to sit, stand or place anything that obstructs his control of the vehicle.
- Passing Pedestrians: When passing a procession, meeting, troops or police on the march or road repair workmen do not drive faster than 25 kilometers per hour.
- Tractor & Goods Carriages: Drivers of tractors are not permitted to carry passengers on the tractor. Drivers of good carriages should not allow more persons than listed on the vehicle registration to travel in the cabin or take passengers for hire or reward.
- Loading: Vehicles should not be loaded in such a way that causes danger to other road users. Load carrying vehicles should not have anything extending outside the vehicle towards the front, rear, sides and should also follow allowed maximum height restrictions.
- Dangerous Materials: Other than the fuel and lubricant necessary for vehicle operation, no explosive, inflammable or other dangerous substance should be carried on any public transport vehicle.
- Driving in reverse: The driver should not drive the vehicle in reverse without first making sure that doing so would not cause any danger or inconvenience to any person on the road.
- Documents to be carried/produced on demand:The person driving the vehicle is to always carry the following documents:
- Driving License
- Certificate of registration of the vehicle
- Certificate of taxation
- Certificate of insurance
- For transport vehicles the following additional documents are required
- The permit
- Fitness certificate
- These documents are to be produced on demand by any Police officer in Uniform, Officers of the Motor Vehicles Department in Uniform or by any officer authorized by the Government. If the driver does not have the documents in his/her possession he should produce attested copies in person or through registered post to the officer who demanded it within 15 days.
- Additional Regulations: Drivers have to be familiar with the following additional guidelines of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 . The numbers below are the Motor Vehicles Act numbers. These are PDF files.
#112 - Speed Limits
#113 – Weight Limits, II
#121 – Signals , Signals II
#122 – Leaving vehicle in a dangerous position
#125 – Duplicate of #24 on Obstruction of Control
#132 – Duty to of Driver to Stop
#134- Duties of driver in case of accident/injury -I, II
#185 – Drunken Driving
#186 – Driving when mentally or physically unfit to drive
#194 - Driving vehicle exceeding weight limits
#207 – Power to detain vehicles without required documents
Though these are the rules how we actually drive in India is much different. Do take a look at one of my related posts on this topic here: http://cars.zimbly.com/2009/05/driving-in-india/
A Request: Please pass these rules to your friends and relatives and if you are/know a first time driver please make sure they go through these before they get behind the wheel. Make sure your own drivers follow these rules and demand that your hired drivers (cabs/rentals/autos/share autos) also follow these rules. Please sign in through comments that you will follow these rules as much as you can and will encourage as many others as you can to do so as well. Let us make the roads a bit safer for everyone. Drive Safe!
Updated: May 31,2012 – Fixed a lot of the links to the Ministry Website that seemed to have become obsolete.