On the Road in India

Information to be aware of before driving in India, including details of the types of road, speed limits, road signs and parking…

Types of Roads

India has one of the most extensive road networks in the world. The condition of roads varies significantly from state to state.

The main types of roads are:

  • Expressways: these are relatively new highways built to connect major cities quickly, such as the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Click here for a complete list
  • National highways: major long-distance roads. Click here for a complete list
  • State highways and major highways: these link important cities
  • Rural roads and urban roads: these connect small towns and villages

The National Highways Authority of India maintains an extensive database of the expressways, national highways, and state highways, accessible through its website: Click here

Speed Limits

There are no national speed limits, so restrictions vary from state to state and road to road. Speed limits are rarely followed though they are posted on most roads in India.

Other traffic police links:

Road Signs

Signs on highways are usually in the state language and English. Signs on national highways are usually in the state language, Hindi and English. Road signs tend to be similar to those in the UK.

Tolls

On some expressways and national highways, a toll has to be paid, in cash, at a booth. The toll can vary from Rs30 to Rs200, depending on the length of the journey. India’s toll roads include the Mumbai-Pune highway, Delhi-Gurgaon expressway and Taj expressway.

Parking

Parking is largely unregulated in India, with states having their own by-laws. There are some general rules, although they are largely ignored. Most office blocks have underground parking.

A driver of a motor vehicle is not allowed to park:

  • At or near a road crossing, a bend, top of a hill or humpback bridge
  • On a footpath
  • Near a traffic light or a pedestrian crossing
  • In a main road or one carrying fast vehicles
  • Opposite another parked vehicle or as an obstruction to another vehicle

Any parking fines can be issued seemingly at random, and a fine or baksheesh requested on the spot. In shopping malls, drivers generally have to pay to park. Tickets are issued by hand when a vehicle enters the mall, and a fee is payable in cash on leaving. In shopping areas, on-street parking can also be metered, with a small fee paid in cash to the parking attendant.

Those who have a hired driver often just ask the driver to collect them at a designated time, removing the hassles of parking.

Useful Motoring Terms

  • Four-wheeler – car
  • Two-wheeler – motorbike or scooter
  • Dickie – the boot of the car
  • Challan – receipt for payment of a fine
  • Baksheesh – a bribe
  • Roundtana/surkal – traffic circle
  • Speed-breaker – speed bump