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Driving in Delhi

April 17, 2010

The traffic in Delhi is like none I’ve ever seen before.  Granted, I grew up in rural Ohio, where it was more common to hear the sound of an Amish horse and buggy than to hear a car horn honking.  Still, I think that the traffic is one of the more shocking aspects of Delhi (and Indian cities, in general) for first time visitors.

Going from this...

A few generalizable trends that I’ve noticed:

– The idea of sticking to a single lane (or to any lane at all…) is lost on Delhi drivers.  If there’s enough space between cars, then squeezing  your own car in there to create a brand new lane is fair game.  Sidewalks will work as lanes, too, if your car can make it over the curb.

– Car horns aren’t reserved for only when you’re angry or want to express displeasure with another driver.  Rather, the horn is used all the time – just to alert other drivers that you’re there.  Some trucks even request that other drivers honk as they pass them.

– As soon as traffic comes to a standstill, a flood of people will suddenly materialize in the street, weaving their way in and out of the stopped cars, wherever they can fit.  Some ask for money.  Others try to sell items running the gamut from books and magazines, to giant balloons, to bobble-head dogs.  Some are more persistent than others, tapping at the car windows until you either agree to buy something or until the traffic begins moving again.

To this...

For those who prefer a slightly different way of getting around the city, however, there is always the option of auto-rickshaws.

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