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How I survived learning to drive in Bombay

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I learned how to drive in Bombay, India. And if you’ve heard any stories about the roads there, from traffic jams to rules or the lack thereof,  I can assure you they’re all true. However, I was lucky to have an exceptional teacher. My dad taught me how to drive. But as I worked to master what I thought was arguably the hardest skill – inching uphill using a stick shift, navigating cars, people and everything else we shared the roads with – I came to realize there was something yet more difficult about driving: developing patience.

My driving lessons included my father making me drive behind a truck, even when other lanes were free, for many hours and many kilometers (only a mild exaggeration) on a highway to build patience. Dad’s philosophy was that truck, bus, taxi and rickshaw drivers were driving for a living, to put food on their families’ tables. But for my fancy Maruti 800cc, road use was a privilege. Giving them the right of way was the right thing to do. And you see this general spirit in most Bombay drivers. 

Today, I drive approximately 45 miles to work one-way and see the best and worst of driving in Los Angeles. I say a little prayer or chuckle every day when I see the heads-down texter, the unnecessary lane changer and the Prius cutting people off to scoot into the fast lane. But my very favorites are the “let’s cut across this 18-wheeler hauling freight and slam on our brakes” drivers, or the “let’s speed up, so this truck that has his turn signal on can’t get in front of us” drivers. If you are one of them, get in touch with me and I’ll happily give you a mini-lecture on the laws of physics and mechanics (hint: if a car gets in a truck’s way, it doesn’t end well for the car!) But the simplest lesson I’d want to teach is one of kindness on the roads. Be mindful, be patient, be conscientious.

At Teletrac Navman, we take safety seriously. And as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we are focusing on road safety tips from America’s truck drivers on what they wish you knew about safety. Check out their tips at: www.Truckers4Safety.com


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