Before you get on to the road, you need to understand the following facts:
- Kerala is among those states across the world with the leading rate of accidents.
- Kerala has the maximum number of F1 racing champs - due to paucity of vacancies, they are now employed as Private bus drivers. There are over 15000 private buses on the road in the state. Although not as competent as private bus drivers, we have over 5000 KSRTC buses handled by a similarly trained set of drivers.
- Kerala is one state that takes overtakes through the left very seriously - I have witnessed cops penalising drivers for overtaking through the left on the highway - so overtakes on the left are at your own risk.
- Kerala is one state, perhaps, that allows bikers to drive the way they want. You can overtake through the left, right or over your vehicle if you are on a bike.
- Kerala is one state, perhaps, that has by-passes running through cities and towns, having more traffic than the core areas of the city itself.
- Kerala, perhaps, has the narrowest roads in the country. While other states make a hue and cry over narrow roads, God's own country goes to a standstill when the government talks of road widening.
- Kerala is, perhaps, the only state where Electricity and Telephone poles are placed smack on the road and not the shoulder! So be prepared to hit on something if you stick too much to the left.
So, are you all set to drive you vehicle now? (If you intend to drive a bike - please "quit". There is no point reading more since the rules apply only to vehicles having more than three wheels, not counting the spare wheel). So, switch on your engine, wear your seatbelts and start the crawl!
Here are the traffic commandments for Kerala:
- While driving on Kerala's road, keep a look out for Cyclists. They own the road, and have all rights to cross the road at any point of time, without any signals whatsoever. Drive more vigilantly if its at night - Cyclists find reflectors a non-essential "accessory" to their vehicle.
- Stay away from bikers - you might end up damaging your body for no mistake of yours. They would zig-zag at will, and you would be at fault if you hit their superbikes.
- Drive at the centre of the road - fortunately Kerala's roads are often too narrow to have lanes earmarked on them. Don't give way if a vehicle behind honks - afterall, you are driving at the nation's highway speed limit of 40kmph.
- If a vehicle tries overtaking you, step on the gas pedal instead of the brake. How dare he overtake you - when you are driving at the legal speed limit? Also remember to crawl "rightwards" to ensure the other guy is required to either brake or go off the road.
- If you want to overtake a vehicle - Arre! Simple boss! Move to the right lane, take you vehicle to a speed equivalent to one kmph over the speed of your victim. Keep crawling till you vehicle finally manages to head across. Reduce speed immediately to one kmph below the speed of your victim. Confusing, eh! Simple - if you want to overtake a vehicle running at 40kmph, take your vehicle to 41 kmph and keep going. Finally at one point, your vehicle would run the length of the other vehicle and reach in front of the other guy. Now slowdown to 39kmph and stick to the centre of the road.
- Never mess with KSRTC drivers - they are the worst lot if you irritate them. Give and take respect.
- Overtake buses only when they stop at bus stops - it isn't possible to overtake them otherwise.
- All toll booths in Kerala give "return" ticket - ensure you get one if you plan to return the same day.
- Oops! I forgot this very important point - never bother looking at your rear view mirrors if you want to cut right or left - those are unnecessary parts in your car, just to increase the cost of repairs. Ensure you keep them shut, so that they would not get broken.
- Enjoy your drive - never mind if you are going slow. Just ensure you never give way to others.
And when in cities, never bother searching for "Parking lots" - No Parking boards are kept to inform you that you may park at the place :)