Why are drivers on Indian roads so undisciplined?

Indian Traffic(Photo Courtesy flickr | Alex Graves)

For a long time, I believed that the chaos on Indian roads can be explained with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Most drivers on Indian roads are yet struggling to address basic physiological needs. How then can we expect them to even think of a greater good of disciplined traffic?

I am now convinced of my wrong belief that Maslow could explain this.

On my return from a recent Sri Lankan vacation, I found myself telling people that SL was quite a bit like coastal India with a few differences. The biggest being that traffic is a lot more peaceful on SL roads. I observed that a lot more people follow rules, there is visible empathy to fellow road users, there are fewer incidents of road rage & pedestrians have the right of way! While my visit was short & limited to just one province, my observations were validated & reinforced by many others who have experienced SL roads. I have heard similarly impressive stories about many African nations (though I haven’t experienced it first hand).

So, why are drivers on Indian roads like the way they are?

Update: Check on the next post on this topic Drivers on Indian roads are so undisciplined because …

5 thoughts on “Why are drivers on Indian roads so undisciplined?

  1. Shub
    U are right it is hard to get a theory to explain this unique phenomena.
    By the way have u noticed the same tribe are fully law abiding while driving abroad!!!
    So could be a localization bug!!

  2. @Gliffy – thought proving article that. I for one concur with the view that the practicality mentality is a problem.
    @Ghanshyam – true, the same individuals display a different behavior elsewhere. Maybe we consider ourselves a part of a different tribe when we are in a different setting .. accordingly a different behavior acceptable to that tribe? ? Localization bug – ha ha 🙂

  3. Shub, I feel the state of Indian driving is also to do with the lack of enforcement. I feel that traffic is more orderly on Indian cities where the traffic cops are more visible and they take enforcement seriously, unlike Bangalore.

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