What to do – You are driving and hear a siren ?

This is one of the first of a series I hope to write covering some tips and tricks useful in general city traffic and driving  building in a flavour of road safety.

Situation: You hear a siren while driving a car/two wheeler. What should you do ? Click on the image below for a flowchart on how to go about this.

What to do when you hear a siren while driving


Key Do’s:

  • Switch off the music if playing in your vehicle and immediately determine the location of the siren.
  • Safely and quickly do what is necessary to enable speedy movement of the vehicle to its destination

Key Don’ts:

  • Block the vehicles progress
  • Chase after the vehicle after it has passed to utilize its pathway to make good time.


A Request:

Please provide your inputs / suggestions on similar issues / items to write about.

Please share this to your friends and lets do our bit to drive safely while fully aware of rules and regulations – hope we can be the change !

Test Drive: Etios Liva GD SP Diesel

Etios LivaLIV TMRRW 2DAY is the tag line Toyota is using for its entry level Hatch – pitched at the millennial generation looking for a high quality brand name car – easy to drive and maintain. Suddenly after a long time feeling the need to do a TD – I requested for a test drive through the Toyota website on a whim on a Thursday afternoon scheduling a time for the next day 5 PM. No call no email till Friday morning when a person called to confirm the test drive request and mentioned the sales person would call and confirm the time for the TD. This happened like clockwork within a few minutes. There was a change in plan from my side and requested  the timing to be between 1:30 to 2 PM instead. This was agreed to. I gave my office address as the location for them.

At 1:28 PM I get a call from the sales person that he was outside our gate ! Wow – for the first time the TD vehicle has shown up at the time specified.  The sales guy made sure the vehicle was turned around and made easy to drive out for me (from a service lane still under construction that had open manhole covers) . That was a nice touch.

Test drive car was in Ultramarine Blue and was of GD SP (Safety Pack) trim. The color reminded me a lot of my Getz Electric Blue :-).  The test drive car came with a body kit that was an add on accessory – not part of the standard – but it definitely made the car look interesting and a bit sportier. The car without the under body skirts and spoiler looks very plain and unappealing.

There were stickers on the car to indicate it was a test drive /demo vehicle. Great – good to know am not driving a customer car. Digital odometer had around a bit over 9K Kms.  Interior of the vehicle was spic and span and clean.

Steering wheel was nice and chunky and of the right size to hold with a thicker portion at 10 and 2. Steering wheel had height adjust but the seat did not. Seat felt a bit lower than needed but I was comfortable within a minute of sitting in it with just adjustment for leg room.

For my height (5’7″) there was decent leg space in the driver seat and my left leg didn’t foul with the dashboard like it did in the Figo. No dead pedal available.

1st gear slotted in nicely and surely and starting off was a piece of cake with the clutch being light and easy to operate even for a first time user of the car. No heavy diesel car clutch issues I was expecting.

Pickup from stop was decent enough – didn’t push it but when moved into second the vehicle seemed a bit slow to respond. Unfortunately the lack of the tachometer meant I had no assistance to tell if I was shifting too early etc.

Drive in 3rd and 4th were decent – again within city roads the ride was smooth and minor bumps etc were not noticed.  Even on a badly paved road at slow speed the ride was comfortable. Only one sharp bump made the suspension make an awkward sound and the vehicle sprung up a bit.

The center mounted speedo is easy to read and I got used to it in no time.

Air-conditioning seemed adequate at fan speed #2  in the afternoon Chennai heat – but again the sales guys had the Ac running before the TD itself. Over #2 the noise was a bit much.

Doors felt a bit thin and didn’t have a solid feel on closing.

Rear hatch has to be opened via central locking and the hand grip of the opening was a bit awkward.


  • GD trim comes with ABS. Need to go to GD SP for Airbags
  • Comfortable front seats – adjustable headrest can be lived with
  • Amazing space at the rear seat – 3 people in comfort with around 4 inches to spare of legroom till the front seat (set for my driving position).
  • Flat rear floor makes middle passenger comfortable
  • Fairly decent and usable bootspace of around 251L. When folded it goes to around 500L.
  • Service interval of 10K after initial service at 1K. Also option of Smile service packages for lower costs.
  • 3 years 1Lakh Km warranty
  • ARAI claimed mileage of 23.59 (Not able to test mileage in the short drive I did)


  • Noise from the engine sounded like a share auto. This was heard over the AC. I guess one will get used to it over time- but for the entire duration of the test drive – this bothered me.  The Figo in comparison had a muted thrum and the Maruti diesels had a similar muted thrum that was not annoying.
  • Horn sounded adequate but was only a single one.

Missing features (that would make this a truly great car):

  • Tachometer
  • Split folding rear seat
  • Seat height adjust
  • Music system (strangely they have speakers installed for the GD SP trim but no music system)
  • Fog lamps
  • Alloys
  • Climate control / switch for fresh air/recirculation – the slider is from 1980s !!!

Availability at this time is around 30-45 days. Price for top end GD SP Diesel trim on road Chennai is 7.14L.


You get a Toyota badge on your vehicle for the price. Ride and handling are decent enough. Feature list is a bit short and makes the Figo seem like a major value for money deal.

Also points to think about – do you really need a diesel – if not then can you spend a bit more for the Etios sedan (in petrol) ? The pricing for the top end Etios Sedan diesel on road I felt was a bit too much coming at around 9.46 on road.


Other Notes:

PS: Images are from www.toyotabharat.com & toyotaetiosliva.in

I just noticed – almost every  image of the Liva on the Toyota websites – are with the body kit and spoiler and with alloys (found only on the VX petrol trim) !!!! One has to pay extra for the body kit to be added to the diesels.


Liva Without Body Kit, Alloys



<- What it looks like without the body kit (see circled areas). Couldn’t find any other image without the body kit on the site :-).




Liva With Body Skirts, Spoiler and Alloys







<- Looks much more improved with body kit, spoiler and alloys(see circled areas). Fog lamps as well.(Click on image to view larger size)





21 Radical Tips to Improve Fuel Efficiency

With rising fuel prices and the prospect of them going up further – here are some radical tips to improve mileage of your 4 wheeler from a primary car driver and owners point of view. They can be easily adapted for SUVs, Minivans as appropriate etc. These have been collected from years of scientific research and of course from across the web.

Fuel Price Increases

This chart with prices of petrol, diesel, CNG & LPG for Chennai since 2002 is from  www.mypetrolprice.com

A lot of these tips are so simple and commonsense you will wonder why you didn’t think of them yourself.  Its ok – You can thank me later.

Here the list:

  1. Improve the aerodynamics of the car – remove all exterior mirrors, chrome, mudflaps, spoilers, badges, stickers and wheel caps. Door handles can also be sealed off to reduce drag. Cover all panel gaps in the body with clear cello tape. Seal the wheels as well with smooth plastic plates.
  2. Maintain the exterior of the car by regularly cleaning and polishing the surface – reduces wind resistance. Make absolutely sure there is no road tar, tree sap or bird poo that is on the surface – this reduces your aerodynamics.
  3. Stop using the AC all the time but instead use it from time to time. As a backup install a couple of Indian hand fans. The windows should be kept closed though for maximum aerodynamics.
  4. Perform weight reduction on self – if you are 10KG overweight – that’s an extra 10KG your cars engine has to drag around. Even bigger savings if you are really really overweight.
  5. Make sure you(the driver) and all passengers if any have finished daily ablutions and necessary bowel and bladder evacuations before the car trip. Weight reduction.
  6. Add the option to pedal power or kick power like in the Flintstones – this helps reduce your weight and also reduces the fuel used. Good for crawling in traffic jams.
  7. Fuel in the fuel tank is added weight – so calculate your daily distance based usage and fill petrol for just what you need.  That way your vehicle will be at its bare minimum weight. If you are the low risk taking type – keep an empty 2 liter soft drink bottle in the car for an emergency.
  8. Perform further weight reduction – remove all non essential items from the car – including but not limited to the following:
    • Remove one wheel from the car – I mean the spare wheel & tire the jack and  tools that you rarely use.
    • rear seat + seat-belts at rear , passenger seat+ passenger seat-belt – can be replaced with some good coir mats on the floor
    • Stereo + speakers and related wiring – if these are retained – then play only slow music – reduces th e temptation to speed.
    • Dashboard
    • Carpets
    • Door interior panels
    • Air-conditioning system
    • Windshield wiper fluid
    • If you drive primarily during the day – you can remove the headlight bulbs – add them back if you want to drive at night
  9. Do not take work material home or purchases of any kind or carry lunch or snacks. Buy what you need where you need it and consume it there.
  10. Wear thin soled shoes or avoid shoes altogether to ensure light presses of the accelerator.
  11. Install tough springs under the accelerator – to reduce the amount by which you can press the accelerator – burns less fuel.
  12. Join a BPO company that does night shift work or if you cannot shift your work that easily – volunteer to work in the night shift from 10PM to 6 AM. Guaranteed to beat the traffic in all major cities.
  13. If your workplace provides company transport that’s running at capacity – talk with your admin team to sell seats on your car for a price for the route you take. For e.g. if it costs you Rs 250 per day in petrol to use your car for a distance of around 35 km roundtrip – sell 3 seats per day at 100 each. Giving you a profit of 50 a day ! That’s a profit of around a 1000 per month counting 20 days !  Basically you are getting paid to drive.
  14. Getting smaller and narrower wheels will assist your mileage on multiple counts – lowers the vehicle height and also reduces the rolling resistance. Just follow the opposite of popular up-sizing guides to properly downsize your wheel and improve mileage. Also see next two.
  15. If your vehicle comes with alloys swap them out for cheaper and lighter pressed steel wheels.
  16. Fill Helium in the tires – helium is lighter than nitrogen and if nitrogen is supposed to give you an approximate 8% increase in mileage – this should give you at-least 20% more.
  17. Change the air intakes to be of hot air type. This increases and improves combustion efficiency burning less fuel. Similarly – smaller diameter exhausts should also help.
  18. Install solar panels on the roof, bonnet etc and use the solar power for charging the battery of the car – you can get rid of your cars alternator and reduce weight there. This has been proved to increase mileage by 10%.
  19. City driving in stop and go traffic is bad for mileage – therefore make sure you include highway trips into your commute – your mileage will automatically increase to become the average of your city and highway mileage.
  20. Push your car in stop and go traffic instead of using the engine.
  21. Remove power steering that requires the engine to run to assist the steering . Also make sure the steering column does not lock on switching off the engine.On all descents – switch off the engine and coast down. Make sure previous point is taken care.


Disclaimer: If you didn’t understand this post still do look at the categories. Its a bit late – I know.

All the best improving mileage and please do add any suggestions you can think of as well through the comments !



10 Sure Ways to Cause Road Rage in India

Picture of angry man with cigarette and mustache.
Image via Wikipedia
This list of pet peeves are for me  – when encountered are sure to make me loose my cool on the road:
  1. Incessant honking – a butterfly flaps his wings – a honk, the signal is red – honk, traffic is moving honk – for everything !
  2. Flashing headlamps – demanding everyone move aside finally when given space/there is space overtakes and then pulls to a halt at the side! If you want to pull to the side you do not have to race several vehicles to do so. An indicator is all that is required.
  3. Repeated attempts to overtake when there is no place to do so safely(single lane roads).
  4. Changing lanes/weaving in and out of traffic.
  5. Vehicles that do not seem to know the concept of lanes and usually drive using 2 lanes.
  6. Vehicles needing to turn, taking up several lanes and chocking entire flow of traffic in all directions. Also bikers/other vehicles who need to go straight who will cut in front of those turning at a corner risking an accident to do so.
  7. Vehicles that follow without leaving a safe distance. They cannot possibly stop in time if vehicles in front have to stop suddenly. They will hit the vehicle in front then angrily accuse them of having ‘stopped suddenly’ !
  8. People driving (some times expensive sometime cheapo) vehicles that they didn’t put in their own blood sweat and tears to buy. Usually gifted/loaned/entrusted by their parents/employer who can afford it but cannot afford the time to teach them how to drive carefully and respecting other road users. TN07AQ1665 was an example for this a silver Skoda Octavia rashly driven by a chap with a cap could be a driver on GST near the Airport .
  9. People talking on mobiles without using a hands free. One idiot middle aged male in an Orange Indica who almost hit me didn’t have the grace to say sorry – I later saw he was both smoking and talking on his cell phone without a handsfree. If you know him TN07AT6004 please teach him some road sense and tell him Orange doesnt suit an Indica – it still sucks!
  10. People driving on the wrong side of the central road lines/driving in the wrong direction into traffic to ‘save’ a few minutes. Almost all bikers I have seen do this. I even saw a Tata Sumo cab yellow board cut through the divider plastic thingys and happily overtake on the new big flyover on Usman road near Panagal Park. Number plate unfortunately I forgot in my shock.

**Bikers who loosen stones of ‘piled stone’ dividers to beat traffic jams deserve special mention since they do this, speed away on the other side of the road leaving the bricks/rocks on the road for several other crashes to happen later at night**

All the above listed deserve the foulest and worst local curses known to man to be heaped on their heads. Hope they reach their final destination sooner and not annoy driving enthusiasts again 😉

Well this is the list guaranteed to boil and cook my goat. What are your top annoyances ?

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Driving in India

Crank (film)
Image via Wikipedia

In my last post I listed the basic official rules for driving in India. Most of us drive like rules do not exist.  Here is my take on why/how some people drive the way they do in India and why the official road rules are not followed. These are tied to the road rules from my previous post. Why the “Crank” picture ? Read on to find out.

Keep Left:  Some motorists think they are in America since they “Keep Right” and hog the rightmost lane next to the median. Others are probably communist and therefore “Keep Left” and try to vehemently oppose any progress (passing) and want to involve labor unions before any passing even of vehicles is allowed.  The undecided ones keep switching from Left to Right and back and forth or just drive in the middle of the two lanes – simple.

Turning Left:  To turn into a road on the left, they stay close to the far right side of the road and make the turn only at the last minute. Making sure to cut across at least 2 lanes of traffic on a minimum. Reason :  If 3 or more lanes of traffic are cut across, it makes them instant heroes in the eyes of the local pretty damsels (ugly betties actually). After turning, they check if they can scare motorists on that road for a few minutes by driving in their lane before going back to the left side of the road.

Turning Right: When turning onto a road on the right side, they first approach the left side of the road, stop, and wait till a stream of fast moving vehicles approach. Then they show off their daredevilry by cutting across the vehicles speeding towards them. If they didn’t die from being hit by then and the vehicle is still moving, they proceed to cut across the speeding vehicles on the other side of the road. Bonus points if this is done with eyes closed in front of an interstate transport bus.

Passing:  If there is a need to pass traffic proceeding in the same direction, they always pass/overtake on whichever side has less space. Why ? Because the vehicle being passed would never think anyone would pass them there and therefore wouldn’t block the overtaking. Bonus points: Honking at the last minute when realization hits there isn’t enough space and scaring the driver of the vehicle being passed.

There is no ban on passing vehicles ever.  Danger/inconvenience to others is never thought about. All that should be thought of is getting to the destination a whole 5 minutes earlier.  If the driver behind has attempted to overtake – it means he is calling for a race. Allowing him to overtake  is the equivalent of dishonouring favorite family deities.  Proving that the vehicle being overtaken(usually grossly underpowered)  is more than a match for the vehicle attempting to overtake(usually adequately powered) and also preventing  this overtaking at any cost is mandatory. Life and limb of self and others being safe is not relevant – being able to boast of having “raced and beaten a larger and more powerful vehicle” is priceless.

The solid lines in the middle of the road mean nothing. Passing is to be done whenever felt like. Most usually after overtaking a vehicle at 80+ Kmph on hills and corners they may feel the need to slow down and stop at the left side of the road. Suddenly!  To explain this watch the movie “Crank” with Jason Statham . He is injected with a mysterious toxin which will destroy his heart and the only antidote is adrenaline leading to some hard to believe sequences.  I suspect these drivers have been injected with the same toxin and have to keep getting their heart rates as high as possible and then suddenly bring it back down again.

Right of Way: The vehicle that gets in front of traffic has the right of way. This is why all buffoons on small 25cc mopeds can cut across national highways and do a wiggle of the moped in front of high speed streams of cars and trucks. They are in front and therefore get the right of way. Every one else has to stop – they have brakes don’t they ?

Emergency Vehicles:  Fire Service Vehicles and Ambulances are to be allowed free passage only to create space just large enough for a vehicle behind them. Everyone knows that driving close behind the ambulance or fire service vehicle will cut down their commute time. Only stupid people who “do not know how to prosper” move to the side and waste such golden opportunities like some poor sod needing to be taken to the hospital by ambulance since he/she is dying.

Pedestrians:  Pedestrians at zebra crossings (and wherever they feel like crossing the road) play the roles of deer  in a hunting game. The vehicle drivers are hunters and their aim is to spot a good pedestrian at 100 feet and aim for them with the vehicle. (Will Smith in “I am Legend” chases deer in a Mustang GT). Honking repeatedly increases the thrill. Speeds should be as high as the vehicle supports. The pedestrian plays the act of the “deer in headlamps” very well. They also perform classical dance steps that they know, in the middle of the road and demonstrate their deep cultural and artistic background including sublime facial expressions of horror , fear and disgust. Don’t worry it is all an act. The younger ones can put Ussain Bolt to shame the way they dance out of trouble. Older slower pedestrians usually have to be watched out for as they do not play this game well and end up getting hurt. It is not much fun scraping pedestrians off SUV tires and bumpers.

Required Signals: The hand signals to be used are mentioned in point 13 of the rules of the road. People with air conditioned cars cannot keep opening the windows to use the hand signs so they just do not bother to use their vehicle indicators. Very few people in non- air-conditioned vehicles actually have the hands to use the hand signs.  Especially the Auto and bus drivers, these poor souls have to use other limbs to indicate their lane changes. Auto drivers without proper hands usually stick their legs out of whichever side they want to turn to. Sometimes the bus/truck drivers use their big toes pointing out of the bus windows to indicate their intention of turning. If they have fingers left on their hands, a few fingers may also be used to indicate their turning. This is usually done only at night so that people do not notice their disfigurement.

Indicators: Indicator lights can be smashed as soon as the vehicle is bought. This minimizes the need to use the indicators and the battery charge can be saved thereby extending the life of the battery. Pre-smashed indicator lights are a preferred dealer installed option package on large vehicles like buses and trucks and of course autos, and low budget two wheelers. 

“U” Turns:  “U” turns may be done whenever felt like. Doing so when explicitly prohibited by a sign adds a new heightened thrill to the act.  When there is traffic or if it is safe to do so or not is irrelevant. If they felt like taking a “U” turn, they just do it. It’s all cool – they showed their little finger or big toe correct? Then it is a safe turn – why make such a fuss?

Parking: When parking the vehicle they first make sure that it does not cause any inconvenience for themselves or their family. Other road users can figure out for themselves. Basically the goal is to park as close to where they need to go regardless of whether it is the cause of a bottleneck in traffic or cause a traffic jam for everyone else.

Registration: Having vehicle number plates displayed is not advisable in India since the police could actually track people down for prior driving violations. Since it is not legal to drive without plates, make sure the plates rust in such a way that just the outline of the plates and something that looks like a number remains. This is the preferred option for cargo vehicles and trucks. If it is a fancy new vehicle with private plates the previous approach will not work. The nearest “rice writing” expert will be glad to write the registration number on a grain of rice in “Comic Sans MS or Times Roman” font and stick it onto a regulation number plate. Though costlier than the standard number plates this is a novelty plate and will make sure the vehicle stands out. The free magnifying glass provided by the rice writer will come in handy if there is a doubt while trying to locate the vehicle in a parking lot since this is getting really popular.

One Way Roads: On “One Way” roads, if travel is required in the direction indicated on the road signs then things are cool. If the direction of travel is in the opposite direction then either drive in reverse or just drive on the edge of the road – people are cool they will understand the driver is a cool dude who cannot be bothered to drive around half the city because of some stupid one way sign. Just show the peace sign while doing so re-affirms coolness.

Driving in reverse:  Ever since Tyrese Gibson acting as Roman Pearce drove in reverse in “2 Fast 2 Furious” every driver in Chennai has had a secret wish to drive in reverse. They do this every chance they get. Especially on divided highways where the spot for the “U” turn is over 10 feet in the wrong direction our local “Romans” drive in reverse to save a few drops of fuel and therefore save money and the environment. This skill in driving in reverse can also be used for “One Way” streets.

Stop Lines:  Those white lines perpendicular to the flow of traffic are markings on the roads to indicate the starting point for races with other vehicles.  The races are typically multi-segment races all on the same road, I mean track where cars, bikes, cycles, trucks buses can participate. The race starts when the “race” signal lights counting downwards flash “3-2-1-GO” just like in F1, NASCAR etc.  The objective of the race is to reach the next starting point capturing a good pole position. Each and every junction can start a race and our drivers live life “a quarter mile at a time”. Vin Diesel would be so proud if he only knew. Vehicles who have missed a favorable pole position indicate their frustration at a poor starting point by honking at those with a better pole position. Just like the 3rd installment of Fast & Furious featured drift races in Tokyo, Fast & Furious 5 will definitely be based in India and will feature these races.

Noise: Drivers have to keep sounding the horn as that is the only way their safety is assured as their brakes do not work. If someone is honking continuously please – understand they will not be able to avoid an accident unless given way to pass. There are no “no-honking zones” since it is not safe to drive without honking. Sick dudes/dudettes in hospitals should go away to remote villages or the mountains if they want peace and quiet. What will happen to them because of a million honks? They will wake up? Or die? Bah – humbug this whole silence thing is overrated!

Loud exhausts are usually due to mufflers rusting away to create the loud sounds. This is another safety feature as it minimizes the need to keep honking.  I wonder why people make such a fuss about loud exhausts. Only stupid people go pay money to get their exhausts louder and claim to have “tuned” their cars when all that is required is to encourage the natural rusting process. If rusting is not a natural process, people in such cities can resort to poking nice wide holes in the muffler or removing them altogether. It “adds” horsepower 😉 and lots of it and actually more of bull excrement than horse power.

Traffic Lights & Signs:  Obey the traffic signal lights when there are traffic policemen or designated /authorized people present and checking is going on. Otherwise the lights are there to add some color to otherwise boring roads and to kick off races. The amber light is not required at all – removing that from signals across the country would save a lot of power for India. The reds and greens are interchangeable after the cops go home till the time they get back on the beat.

Following Distance: As long as the front bumper has a hairs width gap from the rear bumper of the vehicle in front it is a sufficient gap. If the vehicle in front stops suddenly, the best approach is to loudly and repeatedly accuse the driver of the vehicle in front of “putting sudden brake”.  The person who was driving in front becomes at fault when those magic words are spoken.

Loading: Vehicles should be loaded as much as possible in all possible directions and as long as the vehicle can still move it is fine. Protruding objects like sharp iron rods can be marked by one tiny red hankie or if not found a tiny white polythene cover should do just fine. The sky is really the limit for vertical stacking. Two to three feet to the sides can also be used for loads. All those crazy people who build flyovers and run low cable/telephone wires across the streets need to get their heads examined. Why are they obstructing the free flow of load bearing vehicles just trying to make a living ?

Documents to be carried/ produced on demand: The person driving the vehicle is to always carry just one form of documentation in the form of sufficient amounts of cash in denominations of 10s, 20s, 50s and 100s. As long as this is present no other vehicle documents are required. When these documents are demanded by any Police officer in Uniform, Officers of the Motor Vehicles Department in Uniform or by any officer authorized by the Government, the driver has to start low and start handing out 10s, then 20s etc till such time the thirst of the person demanding the documents is satisfied. The higher the rank of the person demanding the document requires a paper with a higher number written on it to start.

Request: Please do NOT follow these driving practices as this is NOT the way to drive. If you drive this way please do NOT drive a vehicle and just take public transport or do not leave your home until you learn the official rules and really Drive Safe!

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30 Basic Rules of the Road

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Passing Prohibited: Overtaking/passing a vehicle proceeding in the same direction is prohibited in the following scenarios:
    1. The passing/overtaking would cause inconvenience or danger to any vehicle proceeding in any direction.
    2. On bends/curves in the road or on hills or there are other obstructions present that prevents a clear view of the road ahead.
    3. If the driver behind the current vehicle has already started to overtake the vehicle
    4. 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.)
  6. When being Passed/Overtaken by another vehicle: The driver should not speed up or do anything to prevent the other vehicle from passing.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Pedestrians: Pedestrians have the right of way at uncontrolled pedestrian crossings.
  11. “U” Turns:  “U” turns may be done only when
    1. Not explicitly prohibited by a sign
    2. Only after indicating the turn is being planned either through a hand signal or through the vehicle indicators
    3. After checking the mirrors  to make sure there is no traffic from behind
    4. Checking the road to make sure that there is no other traffic and it is safe to do so.
  12. 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:
    1. When the vehicle is about to slow down
    2. When the vehicle is about to stop
    3. When the vehicle is about to turn to the right side or pass a vehicle on the right
    4. When the vehicle is about to turn to the left
    5. When indicating that it is safe for the vehicle behind to pass
  13. Indicators: The signals indicated in regulation #13 can be simplified by the use of mechanical or electrical devices (indicators).
  14. Parking: When parking the vehicle make sure that it does not cause any danger, obstruction or inconvenience for other road users.
  15. 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. […]

10 Reasons to Leave Your Car at Home

World Class Traffic Jam
Image by joiseyshowaavia Flickr

It may be strange to see this post on a car enthusiasts blog where you would expect to see me post only about driving and cars .  Sorry to surprise you in this way but I think sometimes it is wiser to leave your own vehicle at home and look at alternatives in the following 10 scenarios (relevant to any city in India):

  1. Political processions/protests/meetings/bandhs are planned for the day (You may be better off taking a two wheeler if you have to travel.)
  2. There is civic unrest and riots/fighting on the roads(staying home is the best option)
  3. There is heavy rain & flooding on the roads(if it is really bad you may want to stay home as buses may stop plying and rail tracks maybe under water- you can forget going to work)
  4. Roads are severely damaged after rains/floods/riots
  5. Massive roadwork is being done such as conversion of a regular road into an expressway
    Chennai prayed too hard.... Part III
    Image by Pandiyan via Flickr

  6. You are unwell or are recovering from an accident or illness and cannot take the strain of driving.
  7. You have very regular work timings and alternatives(cheaper and greener like the company bus/suburban trains/car pools) are available
  8. Your vehicle is not reliable because it is an older model & has problems needing repairs. (Get it fixed quick.)
  9. You are under a lot of stress and tension due to either a birth/ death /illness/ marriage/fight with spouse or event prep/work/business reason.
  10. You haven’t had sufficient sleep(less than 2 hours of sleep) the night before.

What are the alternatives ? Take public transport or take a cab with a driver if you absolutely must travel. Keep your “precious” car safe at home. You may need to spend more on that one days travel but you have the peace of mind of not damaging your car or exherting undue strain on yourself by driving in such conditions.

Related: Was just about to publish this when I saw another good post show up in my Google Reader on Driving With the Right Attitude on the Indian Autos Blog as part of their weekly advice column. Do check it out.

For a perspective on what all can happen when you leave your car at home check out: Is your car safe – even at home ?

A question for readers of Zimbly Cars:  Do you agree with this post or do you have other thoughts ? Please do let me know through comments.

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Long Term Hyundai Getz GLS Review (4 yrs)

We recently completed the 4 year anniversary  of getting the Hyundai Getz GLS as of March 25th.  It has covered around 20 thousand kilometers till now. The mileage has been low since it is my father that drives it during the week and I drive it during the weekends.  Took me some time to write up this review – it is a long long one so I apologize in advance. Plus I can say you have been warned.

Why & how we chose the car: In 2005 we were looking for a replacement to the 9 year old Maruti 800 and we wanted a  bigger car.  At that point we had the Ford Ikon as well so we didnt need another sedan. The 800 was used for all errands and trips to places with bad parking while the Ikon was used only when going out to places with good parking and to Church etc. The primary driver was to be my Father so the primary requirement was something easy to drive and easy to park.

Features available was also a criteria. Having been spoilt with the Ikon I wanted power windows, central & remote locking. With the Ikon’s rear glass fogging up frequently I was adamant about wanting  the rear wash/wipe and defogger.  We started the process late February 2005. The decision was made for a hatchback and the budget initially set at around 4.3 L. A quick look around showed the choices with the features we wanted as the Santro and the Wagon-R. I was not planning on even trying the Indica, the Corsa Sail or the Palio which were also available at the time for various reasons.

Wagon-R blues: We went to Maruti and wanted to see the Wagon-R.  The dealership we first visited didn’t have a demo car at their dealership when we went in so had to wait for them to bring one to us.  One silver one was brought home and I test drove it and found to my horror that its speedometer was disconnected. Decided then and there that I am not buying from that dealership at all.