This post is particularly meant to be a small guide to night driving in Kerala, where the national highways are devoid of streetlights for major parts, roads are filled with potholes and you may even find speed breakers in the middle of a national highway. Great engineering there ayy!
I have done fair bit of my driving and some of it occurred in the night. It’s scary the way traffic moves if it’s a rush day or place, but nights can be tricky. I have hit a pothole so hard that it blew up the fuse of my Royal Enfield one time, other times I have sighed relief after dodging a pothole. But each and every time I have thanked my stars for being safe after the trip. Since I don’t stay here or drive here, I am not updated with the road culture and stuff.
In Kerala, the most of the national highway is a 2 lane road, wide enough only to adjust 2 large buses in parallel. In a place with population of 38 million people is that enough? They do not have any divider and we have face to face traffic trying to battle it out for supremacy. Head on collisions are very much common and we blame the driver for his inexperience, which I disagree to. You mistime or misjudge an overtake and bang bang…
I don’t blame the people, but the government. The worlds most easiest driving license issuing happens here. I was glad when I got it easily but I condemn that now. People don’t know to use indicators, rear view mirrors, they don’t know road priorities and lane systems. Who is to be blamed? Isn’t it the government?
Let me put forth some of my observations while driving at night, in Kerala :
On a Motorcycle,
1. Avoid riding at night if you can. Trust me it’s dangerous.
2. Beware of the highly lit bulbs of opposite vehicles, be prepared to get blinded.
3. Always follow a vehicle at a distance. Can be a car, bike or any other vehicle. Make it your pace vehicle and follow it for any hidden dangers on the road.
4. Use high beams and low beams effectively. On bikes you might not see pedestrians or cyclists at night. Only high beams can spot that on a motorcycle.
5. Make sure that other vehicle has seen you while overtaking. They won’t be expecting you and if you don’t warn them, shit happens. Use the mirrors also from time to time.
6. Take adequate breaks. Avoid driving for long time. Reduce fatigue.
7. Check the vehicle conditions especially for horns, brakes and warning lights.
8. Be careful of the buses plying, if you see them don’t even think twice move out of their way. Else they will scare the shit out of you in a couple of minutes.
9. Take a known road. You never know what awaits you on an unknown road. Potholes, unseen speed breakers …
10. Pray hard!!!
I have used a cars very less as compared to bikes, but I can still tell you guys what to do. Cars are much safer since if you crash you have 2 options : You get injured / die, you escape safely or with minor injuries as compared to bikes which sports the first option only. So apart from the above points you need to follow these at least.
1. Use high beams and low beams effectively as I have seen in cars that low beam help you spot the cyclists and pedestrians which are very close and high beams the ones in distance. Also help other road users by switching to low beam time to time.
2. Don’t follow the buses very close. I did that mistake and paid the price. 😀 They have no courtesy and will brake in the middle of the road without any indications or warnings. Stay at least 5-10 meters clear of them.
3. While attempting to overtake, check the mirrors. Always keep a tab on what is following you and how close it is from your vehicle.
4. Don’t take risks. It is not worth it. Especially if anything goes wrong you are putting your life and the others life on the line. I do it all the time but I am trying and getting better to control that urge.
5. Pray really hard!!!
Hope you understood what to expect driving in God’s own country!
Good luck and Happy revving people.