Driving in Asia: Horns or Brakes?
Driving in Asia is quite the unique experience, at least in the eyes of these two Canadians. It’s unlike any other place on the planet (well maybe South America) and seems to have its own random ‘code of ethics’ and ‘rules of the road’.
|From RTW Highlights|
It’s easy to get frustrated with North American driving. We’ve all had a moment of cursing and single-fingered hand gestures. Be grateful! You don’t know how civilized and organized the roads really are… that is of course, until you drive the dusty streets in Asia.
Traveling through India by taxi or tuk-tuk is an exhilarating and terrifying experience. If you’ve traveled to Asia before you’ll have an idea of what we’re talking about, although each country seems to have its own distinctive twist on road etiquette.
We’ve heard that it is roughly 30 times more likely to get into a vehicle accident in India than in North America. We can see why!
Horns or Brakes – What’s more important?
Let’s start with the honking. In Canada, a horn is rarely used except by tailgating road-ragers who have no patience. In Asia, the horn is as important as the brakes. Possibly even more important because often times drivers have no intention of stopping anyways.
The horn is used to communicate; it’s like a primitive version of Morse code. One beep means something totally different than two or three beeps; and of course the long single wail typically means “move out of the way you %$#@!”
It’s actually comical, but extremely annoying, observing how frequently drivers use their horns… especially motorcyclists. When a motorcycle is cruising down a street cluttered with pedestrians, the motorcycle driver will abrasively beep the horn, letting the pedestrians know that he’s approaching.
Now is that really necessary?
A simple beep is sufficient. Even if the pedestrians didn’t hear him approach, do you think that scaring the crap out of them with your horn will help? But those are the accepted ‘rules of the road’ in Asia!
While driving through the congested city streets of India, drivers will literally keep a continual honk going for up to 500 meters… now imagine every driver doing this at the same time. It quickly loses its affect and purpose, yet drivers continue to do it.
In fact, many drivers come to expect it. Many large trucks have “please honk” painted on the back. Our assumption is that they simply don’t want to use their rear view mirrors and need a loud wake-up call? Many trucks and buses even have their own unique horn jingle, similar to a cell phone ringtone.
Even after three months in Asia we still can’t figure out the honking logic because it seems to change from city to city. But one thing is consistent… the honking never stops!
Have you experienced driving in Asia? Care to share an interesting story?
Share your experiences in the comments section below!