Traffic is horrifying. People do not yield to each other and spontaneously fall into an efficient order… In transit, people approach shared space as if they’re homesteaders on an Oklahoma land run. It’s every-man-for-himself, where every man is trying to grab every centimeter of available road space before someone else does. Instead of a free-flowing circle, a roundabout becomes an immobile tangle of tap-taps, traffic jams radiating in all directions.
There is a clear set of norms that people follow, it’s just that the norms are awful. They lead to anything but convenient transit times and low levels of accidents, and they make driving in the country much more dangerous than it could be.
One maxim seems to govern all else when it comes to traffic: might is right. Semi-trucks and buses rule, SUVs and cars come next, and none of the above respect the thousands of motorcycles zipping along the roads. At the bottom of the traffic hierarchy are pedestrians, who play human Frogger every time they cross the street.
(slightly edited to remove references to the city/country).
Also take a look at what Jeremy Clarkson wrote in Motorworld describing Indian traffic:
And that’s not the end of the story because if, while the bus was halfway past, a lorry wanted to overtake him, he did so, turning a twolane road into a threelane oneway system.
So what if a bus was trying to pass and found itself on a collision course with something coming the other way? Who gives way?
‘Simple,’ says Hormazd. ‘Whoever is smaller. In India, might is right. You only give way to vehicles that are bigger than yours.’
So, if while overtaking, the bus finds itself head to head with a car, the car driver heads for the ditch. If, on the other hand, it’s a big truck, the bus will swerve back onto his side of the road… where I was.
Of course, if the bus had found itself heading for another bus of an identical size and weight, you’d have read about the accident on page 17 in the Daily Telegraph the next day.