Tips for riding safe on Indian roads (highways)

More than tips these are just my brain dump, how my mind works when I ride. You may find some of these as being over careful but thats how I ride :). These are very specific to riding on ‘highways’, I will write separate post around hill/village riding.

  1. Don’t focus on vehicle just in front of you, always look at/for vehicles ahead of the vehicle in front of you. In India we ride dangerously close to other vehicles, even if you want to give gap you will find that gap being filled by another vehicle very soon.  This will also help you avoid ‘driver eye fixation’ problem.
  2. Leave throttle when break lights of vehicle in front of you goes on. Extension of point 1 above, by always focusing on 2 vehicle ahead you not only give yourself ‘more’ time to react in case of emergencies you also practise ‘fuel efficient’ riding. You will find yourself applying very less brakes.
  3. When my father taught me how to drive, he said accidents don’t necessarily happen because you did a mistake, it can happen because of others mistake. So good driver is the one who not only avoids his mistakes but also stays safe when other drivers go wrong. While overtaking at high speeds watch out for vehicle’s front side tyres (ideally blow horn / give dipper before overtaking). My mind is always predicting possible mistakes by other driver so here I am trying to predict whether this driver is going to change lane (while I am overtaking) without indicators or not, as I am on high speed I can’t take chances.
  4. To improve your prediction of #3 above, always checkout in the rear view mirror after over taking. Yes this one might be an overkill 🙂 but I do that.
  5. Ideally you should always be able to see the back tyre of vehicle in front of you, if not maintain constant distance. Reduce your speed by leaving throttle (breaking not needed) to maintain distance.
  6. On two lane road when a vehicle is overtaking you, keep watching in your rear view mirror. At times a third vehicle is way faster than two of you and would like to overtake both of you. Because you are on bike some of them might want to sneak in between. Its safer to slow down a bit to allow faster vehicle to overtake or go faster but avoid third vehicle trying to squeeze its way in. During high speed its very irritating for car drivers to get stuck between a bike and slower 4 wheeler. Respect that and give way, don’t become victim of a third guy’s bad judgement on available space.
  7. Its ok to let faster vehicle pass don’t try to race. This is where we should check our ‘subconscious’ ego.
  8. A good rider ‘never’ gets surprised. Keep looking in rear view mirror, road sides, any kind of movement etc.
  9. Stop accelerating if you can’t see the other side of the curve. For some funny reason there are many side roads connecting our highways on the curve. You don’t want to be surprised on a curve.
  10. If you have vehicles in front of you on all the lanes, try to see between the two vehicles. Several times you are not able to see through the vehicle in front of you in that case try to see in between.
  11. Honour indicators. This may sound very obvious but we don’t follow that in India 🙂 80% of riders/drivers will either honk or increase speed when they see a vehicle trying to come in front of them specially if they show indicator.
  12. Change lane in advance. If you see a slow moving vehicle in front (little ahead) and you know for sure when you reach there you will have to change lane and overtake, then do that in advance. Basically here I am trying to avoid situation where I will reach overtaking spot but by then some other vehicle will come from behind and I can’t overtake and have to slow down.
  13. Use maps/navigation to predict bends. If you are driving fast and have access to map, keep watching and you can modify your speed based on the road ahead. I am talking about road beyond your sight.
  14. Truck / taxi sometimes give left indicator continuously while they continue to be on right most lane. This is a very old way of big vehicles telling you to overtake from left. I do not take this for granted and always overtake with caution.
  15. If you are going to overtake a vehicle which just stopped always assume someone is going to open the door without looking at traffic behind. Either slow down or give some gap.