Expressway Safety

So far, India has three expressways which are Mumbai – Pune Expressway, Ahmedabad-Vadodra expressway and the most recent Yamuna Expressway connecting Greater Noida to Agra that allows users to cover the distance of 165km in a little over two hours at a maximum speed of 100kmph.

These multi-lane fast roads have eased the inter-city travel time but faster also means there is a need for extra caution. So here are some of the expressway safety tips which you could use for a smooth and hassle-free journey.

Before Starting

Before starting your journey

  • Thoroughly check the status of fuel, cooling water, engine oil and tires so as to prevent a vehicle breakdown, which can cause accidents or unplanned stopping.
  • Make sure that you have a good spare tire and tire jack in your trunk, as well as a jumper cable and any other tools that may be needed. It is also a good idea to carry a warning triangle.
  • You should be well rested & absolutely fresh.
  • Never overload your car with excessive passengers or cargo. Overloading will negatively impact its dynamic behaviour and increase braking distances, due to the greater momentum.
  • Always choose daytime driving over nighttime. The night brings poorer visibility, unlit roads and a higher probability of drunk driving & crime rates.
  • Carry decent amount of cash (approximately enough for 2 tank fulls) + a bit more for food, beverages etc. Please remember many petrol pumps on highway do not accept Cards and even if they do sometimes the card swapping unit does not work because of dust, or is nonoperational as telephone lines are dead, or no electricity.
  • Dont forget to carry a photocopy of the car’s documentation i.e. registration book, tax receipts, insurance and so on. If stopped by Outstation Police, show this copy instead of original. And also get fuel bills from all the filling stations. This will help you to prove that you are on transit.
  • Carry the 24-hour roadside assistance number if you have this service and all the emergency numbers.
  • Always check your headlights before starting a night drive on our highways. Make sure you carry a couple extra bulbs for the light and also educate yourself on how to replace a bulb in your car. Same goes for learning to replace your tire with the spare one. You’ll be surprised to see how complicated some cars are in terms of removing a spare tire and operating the jack.
  • One thing we tend to forget is filling up the washer fluid for the wipers. Make sure you top it up since it might prove a life saver on rainy days, and after a lot of moth & bug swatting you do on those “flowery” highways. Keep a couple of empty bottles in your boot just in case you forget to get it done before starting, your can fill it up during your break.
  • You should never add new coolant to the coolant chamber in case you find the level has dropped. Not even the same brand and exactly the same grade. He explained that once a coolant is being used in the car, its viscosity (stickiness) changes and the viscosity of the new coolant, even if it is the same brand and same grade, will not match with the one that is inside the chamber. So either you completely drain out the existing coolant and fill afresh with new coolant or if you are in the middle of nowhere you add distilled water and try to reach a proper service station where they will change the coolant and check why it had gone down. So keep two bottles of distilled water in the boot.

Other things to carry

  • Maps if you are driving on unfamiliar roads. Some recommendations are WIAA, TTK, Eicher and Lonely Planet India maps.
  • A mobile phone with a roaming facility and don’t forget the charger.A camera with extra film or memory.
  • A first aid kit and medicine for common ailments like carsickness, colds, headaches and upset stomachs.
  • If you wear prescription glasses, bring an extra pair with you.
  • Bring snacks and drinking water; these can be a boon in traffic jams.
  • If you are traveling with children, pack some baby food, finger food and juice. You should also think about bringing toys to keep them occupied.
  • MP3s; music will provide entertainment and keep your mind alert on the long drive.
  • A long nylon rope: It will be needed for toeing your or sum1 else’s vehicle in case of a brake down, or even for tying any extra baggage you might have acquired during the journey. You must have approx. 20 feet of nylon rope so that it can be doubled for more strength.
  • A pack of engine oil & coolant: These two are the most probable components which you may run out of in a journey or you may not found the one you use regularly.
  • A rod steering lock:May or may not be required but gives an additional protection since your number plates invites thieves (they tell the people you are not a localite).
  • Small chilli powder pouches to throw in attacker’s eyes or some chilli spray etc and a lathi or preferably an iron rod ( not big just a feet or two long with a bent sharp edge).
  • The best weapon you can carry with you in the car is a 4 battery mag lite.
  • Remember all of this must be reachable at the time of an emergency I mean rod in the boot won’t be of any help, keep it preferably in the gloves compartment & the rods by your seat’s side i.e. between the door & your seat.
  • Other small items like a Pen Torch, pens inside car, Unviersal Plug Adapter,Sunglasses, Sunscreen lotion, Water Bottles.
  • Duplicate Keys: Always carry these & don’t keep it in suitcases or in bags which are kept in the car while you leave it for snacks etc, it should be with sum one other than the driver just case the driver forgets the keys inside the vehicle.
  • Carry a spare tire, maintenance tools, flash light, and first-aid kit.

Planning

  • Plan out a tentative schedule.
  • Make hotel reservations well in advance if you are planning an overnight trip.
    Research good restaurants along your route.
  • Get a good night’s sleep before your road trip. Being well rested will help you concentrate on the road.
  • Wear light, comfortable clothing for the trip.
  • Avoid night driving: security is an issue and bad road conditions are hard to see at night.
  • Start early to beat the city traffic.
  • Take a break every 120 minutes and use this time to get out of the car, stretch and have some refreshments.


Expressway Driving


expressway-safety

Precautions while driving on an expressway

  • Follow lane driving; the extreme left lane is mainly for the use of heavy vehicles. You should move to this lane only if you are trying to get to the breakdown zone, usually located on the extended hard shoulder of the road. The middle lane is meant for vehicles that are cruising, maintaining a constant speed. The extreme right lane is meant for overtaking and vehicles accelerating ahead. Lane driving is the first and the most important step towards safe driving on these roads.
  • All the passengers must wear seat belts while driving on the expressway.
  • Maintain a speed limit of 80-90KM/hr on the expressways.
  • Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
  • When you are on highways, ensure your ORVMs are set in a position so that you get the max view of traffic in your left and right from your driving position. meaning push the mirrors outwards. Typically in the CITY we tend to have the mirrors placed a bit “inwards” so as to see a part of your car’s body ( to keep an eye on vehicles-like 2 wheelers driving very close to you ). Keep the mirrors away as much as possible so that you can see the vehicles that are trying to overtake you.
  • It always pays to slow down a bit if you are seeing a bike or any other vehicle crossing at a distance ahead. You might think he is the only one, and right behind him you’ll see another 2 or 3 guys crossing the highway, only to find that you are doing high speeds and need to urgently stop.
  • Don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol, nor while you are sleepy.
  • Avoid going over anything that lies on the road. It might look like a harmless polythene bag/fluffy thing, but never take chances, just steer clear and use the next lane.
  • While in a tunnel don’t turn on your hazard lights, just turn on your headlights. Switching on hazard lights usually means a stranded or a slow moving car & may confuse the car following you.
  • Don’t suddenly stop/slowdown in the middle of the road (you are on highway remember) to take a picture. If you do decide to stop…move to the left and take the car off the road and stop and switch on your hazard lamps. While getting back on ensure there’s no traffic behind you, use your indicator and only then get on to the road.
  • The closer you get to your destination, the greater the urge to reach faster or the tendency to lose concentration/focus. A greater risk of a collision or accident.
  • And the most important thing to remember don’t pick up hitchhikers or stop for broken down cars. I know I might sound crazy here but its better to be safe than sorry, that said one should never leave the site of an accident without helping people there.
  • Keep the windows rolled up. Being exposed to strong wind & noise for a longer duration can tire you out. There is also the danger from flying pebbles & other foreign objects. Sealed windows are better from an aerodynamic point of view as well.
  • Drive with your air-conditioner in “fresh air” mode. If you prefer “recirculation” mode instead, remember to switch to “fresh air” mode once every 60 minutes or so. Letting fresh air in will keep your cabin’s oxygen levels higher and help you stay attentive.
  • Be considerate to others on the road. Above all, treat them as you would like them to treat you. Be especially sensitive to pedestrians & two-wheelers. A knock at 80+ kph leaves little chance of survival for them.
  • Keep a safe distance from the car ahead and stick to the 4 second rule. Do NOT tailgate. The higher the speed, the more room you’ll need to safely come to a stop. Another advantage of keeping a safe distance is, commercial vehicles dislodge and kick up stones at times. A safe distance means you have superior visibility of what lies ahead.
  • Get tail-gaters off your back. If you brake heavily in a C-segment sedan, there is no way that the rusty bus right behind will stop in the same distance. Either lose the tail-gater or let him overtake your car.
  • Avoid driving in the leftmost lane for a long duration. You’ll often see stranded trucks, Jeep taxis and others stopping without any warning here. The leftmost lane is also where 3-wheelers move along at a snail’s pace.
  • Did someone just make a horrible move and cheese you off? Doesn’t matter. Drive on. Don’t roll your window down to argue. Rural India can be a lawless land.
  • Whenever you brake, gauge the speed of the vehicle behind you. If you think he might run into you, consider moving safely out of his path to the left or right (if possible).
  • If there is a rashly driven car or commercial vehicle around you, let him by. Don’t let it bruise your ego. Your life is worth it. Too bad the dimwit doesn’t realize the same thing.
  • Stay tuned in to what’s around you. If you see several brake lights come on in the distance, start slowing down ahead of time. If you see the vehicle ahead of you swerve suddenly, be prepared to do the same. If you see dogs fighting on the side of the road, slow down in preparation for one to be chased across your path. Driving safely on Indian highways is as much a game of prediction as it is of reaction.
  • If you see a stationary bus on the side of the road, be cautious when passing it. The bus’ passengers could be crossing the road, and won’t see you because of the bus blocking you out.
  • Drop your speed to 50% or less when crossing junctions & villages. After driving for a while, 100 kph doesn’t feel that fast anymore, as you get used to the speed. This is called velocitization. Remember to considerably lower your speed when re-entering the city (at the end of your trip) too.
  • If you are forced to come to a dead stop on the highway (e.g. traffic jam), switch your parking lights on and keep your foot on the brake pedal (so that your brake lights are lit up). This will sufficiently warn the cars approaching behind you to slow down and avoid rear-ending you.
  • Use your indicator *only* to communicate the direction in which you intend to go. Some drivers use the right-hand-side blinker when it’s safe to overtake them. Please refrain from this silly & counterintuitive habit. If you want someone to overtake you, use the left-side blinkers and move out of the way.
  • Be considerate toward the needs of women in your car and stop where clean restrooms are available for use.
  • Avoid messing around with local villagers on the highways even if you have a much faster ride. They often have friends/relatives(with mobile phone access) in the next village or Toll stop.
  • Be very careful while putting your hand through the steering wheel spokes towards the speedo console(to reset the trip meter, etc.). Remember your left and right hands are controlled by different parts of your brain, therefore your left hand may steer the steering as a reflex action to avoid an oncoming obstacle and your right hand may get stuck in there, and may even cause the vehicle to go off road or hit the obstacle.
  • Do not keep objects like water bottles, shoes etc. on the driver’s foot board, as they may may unknowingly roll/slide and go below the brake paddle.
  • Avoid hanging Dolls/Soft toys below the rear view mirror, they can become a major blind spot for the driver, and may even hide something as big as a on coming car(which is at a distance).
  • The “Sweeper” Car
    On an unfamiliar highway or one with dense traffic, you’ll be amazed at how stress-free a “sweeper” car can make the journey. Use a lead car that’s well-driven and follow it at a safe distance. Our family calls this car the “sweeper” car as it will clear traffic for you, and also give you ample warning of unmarked speedbreakers, potholes and sharp corners that you might have otherwise been unprepared for. This relationship becomes even more beneficial at night and when visibility is poor. Of course, don’t follow a lead car blindly. If he drives off a cliff, you don’t want to follow him down. Do keep in mind that the sweeper car will be aware of you following him, and might want to swap positions after a while.
  • You might think you’re a perfect driver, but don’t forget to leave a safety margin for other people’s mistakes.

Rest and food

  • Take a break every 2 hrs if you are on a long drive.
  • If you are hungry, eat. When you are hungry your driving will also get aggressive.
  • Sip on water ever so often. If you don’t, dehydration will easily tire you out.
  • Worried about which restaurant serves good food? Use herd mentality. A restaurant with many cars in the parking lot usually has a good reputation.
  • Avoid overeating, it’ll only make you drowsy. Eat till you are ~70% full.

Noise and distraction

  • Drive with both hands on the steering wheel.
  • Do not drive with a cellphone stuck to your ear. Pull over if you plan or need to talk on the phone.
  • Turn your radio or car stereo down.
  • Let the people in your car chat and have fun. But you don’t actively involve yourself in the fun. Occasionally nod with a grin. After all there are so many lives you need to safeguard apart from yours and you need to be responsible.

Overtaking precautions

  • Do not overtake till you have accumulated at least a 1000kms of highway driving experience and do not exceed more than 70-80kmh on your first few runs, just so that you get used to slowing down, braking,the curves on a highway,the slow bullock carts, the cyclists (most dangerous In My Honest Opinion), the oncoming traffic specially buses.
  • Make sure the parked vehicle on your left is not ready to start before you overtake. Sometime they might come into the way without noticing you approaching. Though its their mistake, but better to be careful.
  • Never overtake or stop at a blind spot on the road (i.e. where other road users can’t see you well in advance). Related Thread (Tips: Blind spots to watch out for during overtaking). Equally, watch out for idiots who are overtaking around blind corners.
  • Golden Rule : If you hesitate, don’t do it.
  • The right way to overtake is to downshift and prepare your car before moving out. The advantage of leaving a sufficient gap is that you can begin to accelerate earlier. When you pass the vehicle, the speed difference is significantly higher and the overtaking move quicker.
  • Honk briefly while overtaking to intimate the vehicle of your intentions. It’s important to let your presence be known as many vehicles don’t use their ORVMs!
  • Before overtaking, also look behind you, using your mirrors. It shouldn’t be that a faster car is overtaking you, and you move out into him.
  • Before overtaking, gauge the speed of that oncoming car. The vehicle might seem to be far away, but if it’s traveling at 150 kph, it’ll meet you sooner than expected.
  • If you see an obstruction in the way of the truck you are planning to overtake, abandon the move. The truck might have no choice but to move to the right (to avoid that obstruction). You have to think ahead and ensure that the truck you are overtaking has no reason to move to the right (and into you).
  • Avoid overtaking from the left side of a vehicle.
  • Never overtake as a group or blindly follow the car ahead of you in an overtaking manouveur. The car ahead could have calculated just enough space for himself (and not you). This is a very common cause of overtaking accidents on Indian highways where drivers cut it fine. Worse still, the driver might have miscalculated and be headed toward an accident.
  • On 4 lane tracks, If a slow moving truck is overtaking another slow (relatively) moving truck, it is usual that the truck who overtook will move to the left most lane after completing the manoeuvre. I have observed that some impatient ( or ignorant ) car drivers tailing the overtaking truck on the right lane and cutting to the left lane to overtake the truck in front of them. The truck driver, ignorant of the car behind him will close to the left and the car driver will be forced to brake very hard. I have seen one driver losing control and veering off the road.
  • On 2 lane highways, if you are tailing two heavy vehicles in a convoy and the one infront of you is trying to overtake another one, and he is almost committed by moving his vehicle to the right side, please do not push forward and close the gap with the vehicle that is being overtaken. Reason is that, in case, the vehicle on right lane reverses his decision, he will need a breathing space to join the convoy behind the heavy vehicle he was trying to overtake. He miay not be aware that you have closed in . This could lead to hard braking conditions or worst case, your car may me ejected from the road.
  • Understand the use of dimming and dipping your headlights.
  • If someone behind you is constantly dimming and dipping means he wants to overtake you.
  • At curves/blind bends people on the opposite side dim and dip to warn oncoming traffic of their presence and that they are coming through,if you are on your highbeam and the opposite driver flashes his lights he is requesting you to use your low beam.
  • While trying to overtake trucks or buses, normally the highway educated drivers will let you know if you can overtake or not through their indicators or wave of hand. If the left indicator blinks, it means you can’t overtake and there’s oncoming traffic while the ‘right’ indicator means, go ahead.
  • Check your mirrors and blind sides for any movement that is around or approaching you. Change down to an easier gear with the goal that you have enough control on tap to do the move quickly.
  • Never overtake until you have an absolutely clear view. This also means that overtaking on curves & blind spots is taboo.
  • If I do not have any vehicles in my rear-view mirror and ahead, I will try to stick to the middle of the road. Yes, I might not be following the lane driving, but since there are no vehicles in front and behind you, it doesn’t matter. This will give you enough time/space to react to those crazy surprises that will pop out from either sides of the road. Yeah, the happy grass-chewing cows on the divider might want to step down on to the road at times. This also works on rainy days when water will mostly be collected on the sides and driving through the middle lane makes you less susceptible to aquaplaning.
  • If the right side of your vehicle is on normal tarmac with good grip, and the left side of your vehicle is running over some gravel(or any surface with relatively less traction), then hard braking may cause the left side tyres to lock up, and the car itself will steer to the right. ie. while braking hard ensure that both sides of your vehicle are on a surface with similar traction.

On hilly terrains

  • Go down a particular decline in the same gear that you’d choose to climb it.
  • Make liberal use of engine braking. This helps in keeping the brakes cool, maintaining car control and setting just the right level of deceleration. NEVER ever roll down a decline in neutral gear.
  • Yield to vehicles going uphill, as they have the right of way. This is because it’s troublesome for them to lose momentum and restart while ascending. Be considerate.
  • Honk whenever you are entering a blind turn. Assume the worst; a speeding bus could be coming your way on your side of the road.
  • Reduce your speed before the curve, not in it. For one, it will help your car cope with an emergency manouveur better. Second, there is a possibility that the turn is sharper or steeper than you originally anticipated it to be.
  • Depending on your car’s power-to-weight ratio or if your engine is running out of breath on steep inclines, switch the air-con compressor off. This will free up a little more power for the climb.
  • If you happen to stop behind a commercial vehicle, leave a wide gap in between. The truck will inevitably roll back when it tries to get going again.
  • If you’re behind the wheel of an SUV, understand its dynamic limitations vis a vis a low-slung sedan or hatchback. SUVs are more prone to rollover at high speeds or in an emergency manouveur. Also, SUVs simply cannot handle or brake as well as sedans.
  • If your car has driver’s seat height adjustment, don’t set it too low. This will cut your visibility on steep inclines and road dips.
  • Always park OFF the road, away from passing traffic and with your parking lights on.
  • Tip for overtaking on curvy roads like long highway ghats : Before overtaking a vehicle on a left-curve, first see from the left of the vehicle to get a better view of the on coming vehicles along the curve, and then overtake from the right.
  • In a panicky situation always focus more on where you want your vehicle to go, rather than focusing on what is coming at you. Because your brain has this strange tendency of taking you in the direction where you are focusing.
  • If a dog/hen crosses the road don’t try braking to avoid them (especially if you are driving fast and if it’s a busy highway). Trying to suddenly stop could result in the car swerving and you losing control and putting your life at risk as well as the others.
  • Try to use engine braking as far as possible. i.e lower the gears and brake.
  • Braking is always better than swerving to your right or left trying to avoid a cow for example. You might end up with a head on collision or worse still go under a parked truck which has high base.

Reducing the odds of a Tyre blowout

  • Under-inflation is the NO.1 cause of tyre bursts. Some studies suggest that it is responsible for 75% of all blowouts. Under-inflated tyres suffer from excessive flexing and thus, overheating. Be disciplined in checking the air pressure of all tyres (including the spare) before hitting the highway. Always check the pressure when the tyres are cold (typically, less than 5 km of recent running). Invest in a high quality pressure gauge as petrol pump readings may be inaccurate.
  • Check the air pressure every week or fortnight. This way, a small puncture (also known to cause blowouts) will catch your attention.
  • There is nothing more critical to safe driving than healthy tyres. Visually inspect all tyres (including the spare). If you spot any bulges or cuts, that is bad news. Tyres can also get damaged by impact against kerbs, dividers and large potholes.
  • Use tubeless tyres. The old tube-type tyres have a higher chance of a dangerous blowout. Good news is, tubeless tyres are OEM fitment on nearly all passenger cars sold today, and the norm in the after-market too.
  • Use high quality tyres from a reputable brand. Avoid cheap, unknown imports (example). In addition, never buy used tyres or retread your old tyres. It must be added that runflat tyres can be lifesavers in a blowout situation.
  • Check the remaining tread depth of your tyres. Not only does additional tread depth help prevent punctures, it also greatly helps grip levels. If the tread has worn out, get a new set immediately.
  • If your tyres are over 5 years / 40,000 kms old (lesser for performance rubber like the Eagle F1), you should consider replacing them. The older & more wornout that your tyre is, the higher the chance of a blowout.
  • Never overload the vehicle. Ensure that your tyre’s load rating (specified on the sidewall) and vehicle payload capacity are never exceeded.
  • Avoid approaching the ‘speed rating’ of your tyre. If you do a lot of highway travelling, ensure that your tyres have a rating well above your average highway speeds.
  • Don’t get temporary / shoddy puncture repair work done. The mushroom + plug type repair is the most recommended. Click here to view a pictorial explanation of the plug-type puncture repair process.
  • If a tyre has suffered sidewall damage, get rid of it. Related Thread. Keep in mind that driving a considerable distance on a puncture can damage the sidewall.
  • Stability Control Programs (e.g. ESP) are lifesavers in a tyre burst situation. Consider this when shopping for your next car.
  • While tyre sealants cannot prevent tyre overheating (and eventual blowout), they can fix slow punctures and thus prevent under-inflation.
  • If your car is equipped with poorly designed wheel caps, get rid of them. Some wheel caps can actually rub against the sidewall & damage it.

Handling a tyre brust

  • If your tire loses air while driving, do not brake immediately. It is extremely dangerous to brake immediately when your tire suddenly loses air on the expressway. When a tire suddenly loses air, the steering wheel jerks to one side. Firmly grip the steering wheel and release the gas pedal to gradually lose speed. Do this for about 100m and slowly stop on the side of the road.
  • Start with maintaining a safe driving speed; there are just no two sides to this. The lower your speed, the higher your chance of survival. A blowout at 80 – 90 kph will be far less dramatic than one at 140 – 150 kph. Indeed, if you survive a tyre burst at 150 kph, consider it a gift of God.
  • Do NOT slam on the brake pedal. Of course, this is easier said than done, as our brains are hardwired to instinctively jam the brake pedal in an emergency. Hard braking is actually the worst thing you can do as it will further imbalance the vehicle and throw it out of control.
  • Don’t abruptly take your foot off the accelerator. Do it slowly & gradually. In fact, Michelin recommends that you maintain accelerator input momentarily, before releasing it slowly. The deceleration force from a blown tyre is so strong that your car will anyway slow down rapidly. If you have engaged cruise control, be sure to disengage it immediately.
  • Try your best to keep the vehicle pointed straight. Cornering or turning with a blown tyre will greatly upset the car’s composure. If your car is pulling to one side, you might need to pull the steering in the opposite direction to keep it going straight. This is critical, else you risk drifting into the road divider or worse still, the opposite lane.
  • Do NOT attempt to over-correct. The key is to maintain the vehicle’s stability. A sharp yank of the steering wheel can result in a rollover. Even when you have gained control and are slowly moving to a safe parking spot, do so with the mildest steering inputs possible.
  • Allow the vehicle to gradually coast to a stop. Use engine braking if necessary. Lightly engage the brakes only when your car has decelerated to a slow speed. Use the turn indicators and pull over safely off the road. Drive on the bare metal wheel if you have to, but do NOT stop in the middle of the road as you run the risk of getting rear-ended by a speeding car. Remember to activate your hazard lights when stopped.

Other important points

  • If your car pulls to the left or right side and the steering has gotten heavier, either of the front tyres has burst. The direction that the car pulls in is the side of the damaged tyre. On the other hand, if your car weaves, a rear tyre has blown. Again, don’t brake. It can lead to your car fishtailing.
  • Always drive with both hands on the steering wheel. It’s difficult to control the car in an emergency situation if you have only one hand on the wheel (and the other holding a coffee cup).
  • Understand that your car will behave very differently with a blown tyre. Effectively, the vehicle now has only 3 contact patches with the road (instead of 4). Any sharp inputs (steering, brake, accelerator) must be avoided.
  • If you drive an SUV or MUV, the probability of a rollover is extremely high. SUVs also have a greater chance of losing stability and steering control. Maintaining a conservative cruising speed is recommended.
  • Rubber parts or a broken wheel could have damaged other components of your car. Have a mechanic thoroughly check your car before fitting the spare wheel and driving away. If the extent of damage is severe, call for a tow truck. Most car manufacturers & expressways offer road side assistance now.
  • The situation worsens if the roads are wet. It’s best to maintain a lower driving speed in the monsoons. On the flip side, the odds of an overheating tyre are also lesser in rain or cold weather. Click here to view our article on safe driving in the monsoon season.
    Above all, try to remain as calm as possible. You shouldn’t panic and you certainly shouldn’t overreact. In most cases, but not always, a tyre burst is accompanied by a blast sound or a loud pop.

For female drivers

expressway-woman

  • If you are a woman driver, and making a long trip, at night wear a baseball cap and tuck your hair up inside. That way, you may not attract unwelcome attention. If you are driving alone, use two pillows (long wise) in order to make it appear that a person is sleeping in the back seat, simply add a blanket over the pillows.
  • Always have 1 tested bottle of pepper spray in the glove compartment, just in case.
  • Give an itinerary with booking information and telephone numbers of each hotel you may be staying at. Also carefully calculate how long it will take you to get from point A to B. Prefer to start driving by 5am so that the driving is done by dusk. Night time driving is a risk especially because of your gender and general driving conditions.
  • Don’t step out of the car when you stop at a dhaba, ask the dabha guys to serve you your tea & snacks inside the car.


Night-time Driving


expressway-night

Precautions during night-time driving

  • If you are following a pilot car at night(a general practice), make sure you are in low beam and also keep a safe distance of at least a 25-30 meters. You definitely do not want a high-beamer sticking to your boot for 100 odd kms at 100+ speeds.
  • Do not use fog lights in normal night driving conditions. Fog lights hurt the eyes of other road users, especially of those following you if you have rear fog lamps.
  • With no police enforcement on highways to curb drinking & driving, there is no doubt that the number of drunk drivers will be higher at night.
  • Post-incident medical support is delayed in India as it is. The response time at night will be even poorer than the day.
  • Crime rates are higher at night. For instance, all the dacoity routes I know of close to Mumbai (e.g. Panvel bypass, Shirdi road) only have gangs hitting cars at night. Never during the day for obvious reason.
  • Understand the use of dimming and dipping your headlights.
  • If someone behind you is constantly dimming and dipping means he wants to overtake you.
  • At curves/blind bends people on the opposite side dim and dip to warn oncoming traffic of their presence and that they are coming through,if you are on your high beam and the opposite driver flashes his lights he is requesting you to use your low beam.
  • Use your low beams when there is oncoming traffic.
  • While trying to overtake trucks or buses, normally the highway educated drivers will let you know if you can overtake or not through their indicators or wave of hand. If the left indicator blinks, it means you can’t overtake and there’s oncoming traffic while the ‘right’ indicator means, go ahead.
  • When following a vehicle, shift to low beam.


Rainy-day Driving


expressway-rain

Precautions driving on a rainy day

  • Be twice as considerate to two-wheelers! Not only are they completely exposed to the rains, but neither do they have the same braking / grip levels as your car. Don’t tail bikes either. They are prone to slips / falls and we don’t want you to run over them.
  • In rainy conditions, pedestrians are extremely hard to spot. Also, please don’t splash water on pedestrians.
  • Plan the journey such that you reach your destination within daylight hours.
  • When possible, stay off the roads during heavy rains. If you are on the road and visibility gets worse, park someplace safe, get a cup of coffee and wait for the rains to simmer down.
  • Don’t park anywhere on the road, or close to where other cars would pass you. Poor visibility could result in someone banging into your car. The ideal place to park would be one that’s off a street and at a level higher than the road. If you are parking only for a short time, switch your parking lights on.
  • You never know when you may end up stuck on the road. Don’t ever let your fuel tank go below the 1/2 level mark. Also, stock up with sufficient supplies of snacks and bottled water. Chocolates, packaged wafer chips and energy bars make for great snacks to store in your car.
  • Keep a first-aid kit, torch and umbrella handy. Some members even recommend keeping a small hammer in the car. In the event of flood waters jamming your doors, the hammer could help in breaking the windows for escape.
  • Rains can make for damp smelly interiors. Get an air-fresher for your car, the type that hooks onto the air-con vent. Some members have also suggested “mogre ka gajra” or “mogra flowers” for vibrant interiors. Packets of silica gel keep fungus in check.
  • Carry a couple of cigarettes or a pouch of tobacco in your glovebox. If visibility becomes a problem due to heavy rainfall, rubbing tobacco on the windscreen works wonders.
  • Concrete roads are very slippery, far more than our good ol’ tar roads. Bridges and flyovers can also be extra slippery, so drive carefully over these areas.
  • More than anything, go slower in the rains. It’s that simple. Adopt a conservative driving style and plan for a longer travel time. For instance, brake earlier and with lesser force than you would in the dry. The taxi behind you is running on 3 year old wet drum brakes! If you would have squeezed into that small gap on a dry day, refrain from doing so in the rains. Steer and brake with a light touch. Prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on the curves. A gentle approach is the key here.
  • Maintain a safe distance with the car ahead, one that’s twice as longer than in the dry. Braking distances are severely affected on wet roads.
  • Engine braking has certain advantages on slippery roads. That said, use engine braking in a smooth transitional manner, and in a combination with your regular brakes. Your brake lights will let the car behind know of your intentions to stop / slow down.
  • Avoid driving on lane cuts or lane divide lines; your car will tramline much easier in the rains. Also, try to stay off the paint on the road (zebra crossings, lane markers etc.) as the painted surface is low on traction.
  • The safest place to be is in the middle lane. Why? Crowned roads will have water settle on either side. Plus, you will notice puddle formation in the right lanes, while the left will always have people joining the road or exiting.
  • Switch on your low beam headlights in the rains, whether night or day. Not only can it potentially improve your vision, headlamps will also let others see you better. Avoid using high beam in the rains as it can reflect light as well as blind oncoming traffic.
  • Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you.
  • Avoid puddles like a plague. Firstly, you never know how deep they are. Second, if you are at speed, they can make your car aquaplane in water, leading to an absolute loss of control. Drive around large puddles, you never know what’s lurking underneath.
  • Never splash into a puddle as it could severely damage your car. For instance, water getting into your air intake could kill your engine.
  • Blind spots! In the monsoons, trucks and other commercial vehicles have absolutely no rear view. Take extreme caution before overtaking them because, in all probability, they can’t see you! Honk and flash your headlights liberally.
  • If you experience heavy rains on the highway, follow a conservatively driven bus / truck with working stoplights. However, don’t follow it too closely else the spray from its huge tyres will impair your vision.
  • Severely heavy downpour can restrict your visibility to only two car lengths’ (or less). In these conditions, it is best to safely pull over and take a break. Heavy downpour doesn’t normally last for too long.
  • If you aren’t sure about the depth of the flood, do NOT drive through it. Taking an alternate route is best. If you just have to use that stretch, wait until another car / bus attempts to pass the flood, and gauge its depth. Never drive through a flood unless you know how deep it is and that your car can handle it.
  • Switch off your air-con before entering the flooded area.
  • Always keep your windows slightly open when traveling through a flooded area. If you get stuck, you can shout for help or even force the window down.
  • When in a flooded area, choose the first gear, slip the clutch and keep the revs high enough to ensure that exhaust gases are pushed out of the tail pipe.
  • Do NOT stop revving. The lower your car’s speed, the better. If your car stalls, it is very difficult to start it again.
  • If your car does stall, do not attempt to restart. This may lead to engine hydrolock. You first need to check if any water has entered the air intake or exhaust pipe.
  • Windscreen / Window fogging : Window fogging occurs due to a temperature difference between the inside surface of your glass and the outside. For example, if you drive without the air-con and all your windows are shut, the cabin is warmer than the outside, resulting in the window fogging up from inside. On the other hand, if you run your air-con on full blast mode, the interiors of your car will be colder than the outside. Thus, your glasses will fog up from the outside.
  • Keep the air-con on fresh air / ventilation mode.
  • It is important to maintain the right temperature balance between the inner & exterior sides of glass.
  • Don’t turn your air-con to full blast. Keep it at a level which is just about comfortable.
  • When the windows fog from the inside, the best thing to do is to switch the aircon on. It will clear up the screens in a jiffy. The situation is a little tricker when the windows fog up from the outside. The ideal solution is to roll down the windows a little, and let the air flow more or less neutralize the temperature difference. Most modern cars come with the demist / defog mode as part of the standard HVAC system.


References and images credit
– www.team-bhp.com
– www.BusinessToday.in
– www.TimesOfIndia.IndiaTimes.com
– www.wikihow.com