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Ravi Lingineni

Published Jan 13, 2022

How to Drive a Scooter in India

Some basic road sense

A few weeks ago, I rented a scooter in India, to explore my hometown of Vijaywada. India is considered one of the most [dangerous countries] for driving, and pretty terrifying for outsiders to get behind the wheel. .

Aren't you Indian?

It’s been a rewarding experience to being able to explore the country on a two-wheeler.

If you’ve always wanted to, but are terrified, I’ve taken the time to jot down a few details for you with some of the insights that I’ve picked up.

I wanted to write a post that details the process for getting your license in India, the driving philosophy I picked up, and a few of the everyday cases that you might run into.

Getting you license

India is one of the 47 countries that accepts and IDL or International Driving License. You can buy an IDL at your local AAA office for about $20.

[Image for India]

If you’re licensed to drive a motorcycle in the United states (I was), you can get that class transferred over to your IDL. I didn’t get pulled over, so I didn’t get a hard time.

Driving Philosophy

The overarching rule that guided my driving in India was: Cover your ass.

Driving in India is less about finding the right-of-way. and more about getting to your destination. The roads are bumpy, the lanes are ignored, and traffic will come at you from everywhere. Good luck trying to follow a rule book.

If you’re going to remember three things, and

1. Keep Left

This is harder as an American because we drive on the right. So in the event you find something, or someone hurling at you, you need to keep reminding yourself to move to the left.

2. Give yourself space Most drivers in India are aggressive. Just leaving a foot of space between you and the car in front of you, will invite drivers to jut in between. This is frustrating.

3. Don’t go Fast It’s hard to make decisions when going fast. It’s hard to stop when you’re going fast. So unless you have to, cap your speed.


I’m assuming you know how to drive a scooter. Two brakes and a throttle. If you’re in the Bay Area, try a [Revel] to get the hang of it.

It’s hard to pinpoint exact road rules in India, rather, it’s best to know how to handle situations. There’s no one right answer, as long as you don’t die, and make it to your destination, it’s all fair game.

The Surprise Visitor

You’re driving along, and either a family of 4, or a large bus make their way into your lane. It’s your job to keep an eye for traffic, and take the proper evasive maneuver.

Areas to watch out for are road dividers and alley ways.

The Free Intersection

Imagine a busy intersection in your home city, and with the same amount of traffic, had no stop signs, or traffic lights. This is how most interesections worked in India, and it was absolutely terrifying on a scooter.

The key as I’ve learned, is to keep moving. I’ve messed up a fair amount of times crossing these. When you’re not moving in your intended path, it makes it hard for the other drivers to judge whether to slow down or speed up. Kind of like a game of traffic rush.

I’ve exchanged my fair share of awkward confusion in the middle of an intersection with other drivers, and instead of slowing down and processing, both of us could have just gone our ways.

The Railroad Crossing

Imagine you’re on a moving road, and a seecond later you are standing in a dense crowd. That’s how it feels at a railroad crossing.

And if there’s space, I can guarantee people will take it. So traffic on both sides of the gate take up the entire road.

Contrary to popular belief, more than 50% of the milk in India comes from buffaloes, not cows. This is interesting to to know, because you might just run into a few on your drive.