Road Rules: India versus New England

Dear C and C:

Your web site is carefully designed to avoid people like me whosend you stupid things they wrote so you might read them on theair. Too bad, here's my offering, "Driving in India versus NewEngland." I wrote it about Maine at first, then modified itfor Massachusetts. Then I realized that people in Massachusetts driveJUST like the people in India, without the friendly attitude.

My wife and I listen to your show every Saturday while we are working on our old housewhich is like an old car, only bigger and more expensive, and harder to trade in.

Tom and Nelle

(The following was written on the plane back from Bangalore,India to Portland, Maine in June, 2001)

Road Rules:
India versus New England

In the July 2001 issue of Down East magazine, there was anarticle about driving in Maine. It then suggested some finepoints about driving tips. Having just returned from India, Idecided that a "point-counterpoint" approach might be amusing.To be careful, I called Down East magazine and asked forpermission to use some of the information in this article. Theysaid, "No problem, just give the credits."

If you are from Massachusetts, do not despair. You will do justfine if you have to drive in India. As a professionalcourtesy, Boston Taxi Drivers automatically qualify for an India-wide taxi driver's license.

Lets compare the Rules of the Road!

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
It is OK to turn right on red, after making a complete stop.

There are no lights, red, green, yellow, nothing. Just honk yourhorn many times and turn at any time. Continue to smile and waveat everyone.

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
Please use your turn signals.

There is no need to use turn signals. Simply watch the person infront of you to see which way they might turn. Then, go aroundthem, honking enthusiastically.

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
Pedestrians have the right of way.

Cows have the right of way. Pedestrians usually stay out of theroad. If you see one, it is considered polite to honk your honkseveral times before AND after you hit them.

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
The breakdown lane is for cars that are actually broken down,not for a shortcut to the next exit.

There are no lanes. A breakdown "lane" would be any areaoccupied by a vehicle that has not moved for several hours or acow that has decided to stop while crossing the street.

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
The Passing Lane is used to overtake other cars that might bemoving more slowly than you. Please stay out of this lane ifyou are just cruising.

I repeat, there are no lanes. Usually, seven or eight vehicleswill be randomly stretched across a roadway one-half the size ofRoute 1. To pass another vehicle, motorbike, or gas-powered,three-wheeled rickshaw, simply go around them on either side,honking wildly, but with a courteous, respectful tone.

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
Roadside attractions should be visited by using your turnsignal; pulling over to the right and moving well clear of theroad.

The entire country is a roadside attraction. There is no need topull over, simply slow down, roll down your window, and visitwith the nearest individual or attraction. The rest of theworld will understand and honk encouragingly as they pass you oneither side.

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
Horns are considered rude and disturb the tranquility ofwildlife or slow moving traffic on I-95. Please pretend youdon't have one.

Horns are more important than brakes, turn signals, or gas. They should be used continuously, though with a distinct patternor sequence, not unlike Morse Code. They send a series ofmessages that must be interpreted by the person in front of you:
1. Hello there! How's it going?
2. I'm right behind you,
3. Was that arm gesture a turn signal or are you just gladto see me?
4. Holy cow! Ahead on the right, left or in front of me,
5. I would like to pass you on your right or left, so keepyour eyes peeled,
6. I am now passing you,
7. Thanks for letting me pass you,
8. Nice car, motorbike, motorcycle, rickshaw, etc.
9. Are you turning or just weaving through the traffic?
10. Have a nice day,
11. Have a heart attack,
12. See you tonight at the _______________!!

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
Road rage is not acceptable and is a clear sign that you havebeen in Maine and/or Massachusetts less than 3 hours.

There is no road rage whatsoever. Everyone is friendly andsociable with a great attitude. Heavy traffic is a good time tovisit or socialize. Dead stop traffic is always a great time tomeditate or practice your deep breathing.

Maine and/or Massachusetts:
Always stop for cows in the road.

Same rule. But, if you have any snacks in the car, share themwith the cow. He could be your great-great-great grandfather.

Have fun and drive safely, wherever you go!

[ As Read on Car Talk ]