Friday, August 2, 2019

What Are Those Dang Lines?

Every time I see a traffic cop issuing a traffic violation ticket to a driver, I am a happy man. I stop my car and go to the Traffic Copper and give him a gusty THUBS UP and tell him; “Don’t Excuse Her/Him”.

Hazard Light
Quite obviously, a majority of the Bhutanese drivers seem to confuse the Hazard-Warning Lamp for that of a Parking Lamp. Even worst, they seem to think that flashing the Hazard-Warning Light in a NO PARKING area will absolve them of the offense of illegal parking. It is pathetic to watch the offenders beg and plead with the Copper when they are booked. But one has to understand that discipline on the road saves lives - and eases traffic congestion that is reaching crisis proportions in Thimphu and Phuentsholing.

The issue is clear: if the erring driver did not know the rules, then he/she has no business being on the road. If the driver did know the rules and still committed the offense - then that is even worst - he/she should be locked up in the slammer and the keys thrown into the Thimchhu. Either way, she/he is a danger to life.

This is a Hazard Light Switch - not a Parking Light Switch 

When should you use Hazard-Warning Lights?
These are a pair of intermittent flashing indicator lights that flash in unison. They are intended to warn other drivers that your vehicle is a temporary obstruction. They are also called Hazard Flashers and Hazard Lights. You are expected to use them if your vehicle is broken down on the side of a road, or you are changing a tyre on a shoulder of the road. You should also use them when your vehicle is being towed. IT IS NOT TO BE USED AS A PARKING LIGHT!

Illegal Parking - Flashing Hazard Lights won't Help

Bang In The Center Of The Road
The other strange thing that I have noticed is that a large number of drivers seem to think of the solid/broken white Road Diving Line in the center of the road, as an indicator for them to align their vehicle bang center on the road. How strange! Actually doing so is tantamount to infringing on the right lane, which is a violation.

You can see that the vehicle is a Taxi - meaning that the driver has a professional driving license. Imagine!

Another problem with the Bhutanese drivers who drive on multi-lane roads in Thimphu is that they are clueless about the rules that govern the use of the right lane and the left lane. I do not know if this is excusable - since 90% of them would not have driven on a multi-lane road before. What drivers should know is that the faster traffic should take the right lane and the slower traffic should take the left lane.

Thimphu's multi-lane highway - Many are clueless as to which lane to use when

You must always overtake from the right – overtaking from the left is illegal. Sometimes one fast driver overtakes from the left to get in front of the vehicle in the front. That is not correct. You must flash your headlamp (honking is rude) to indicate to the driver in front of you to indicate he should either drive faster or allow you to get ahead.

There are many types of lines and with different colors, marked on the roads. One has to understand that those lines were marked - spending millions of public money - they are not cosmetics for the road. They do have very import messages.

Single Solid White Edge/Boundary Line
Generally outside boundary line close to the shoulder of a road. Parking inside the white solid line is not allowed. In Bhutan, all cars must be parked outside it.

Single Solid White Line in the Center of the Road
When you see this unbroken solid white line in the center of the road, it means that you are not allowed to cross it or change lane. Overtaking is NOT ALLOWED.

Single Solid White Line in the center: Overtaking is NOT ALLOWED

Broken White Line in the Center/Shoulder of the Road
When you see broken lines in the middle or edge of the road, you can cross it and change lanes. However, some broken white lines end in a solid line - most often at bends and blind curves. When you see that, you cannot change lane or overtake. Parking on the  road shoulder is allowed - whether paved or unpaved.

Two different types of lines - broken and solid

Zebra Crossing
Where there is a marking to indicate that it is a Zebra Crossing, know that the pedestrians get right of way.

Zebra Crossing - Pedestrians get right of way

Jay Walking
In most countries of the world, Jay Walking is an offense. Singapore perhaps has the highest fine for Jay Walking: $50.00 for first time offender – repeat offenders can be fined as high as $1,000.00 or Nu.50,000.00.

Jay Walking - A bad and dangerous habit. Here you could end up with a dislocated knee-cap

In Bhutan I have not yet seen Jay Walkers being fined although Traffic Police do warn the Jay Walkers to use the Zebra Crossing. If you do Jay Walk, you could end up getting your knee cap dislodged.


  1. I was driving behind your Swift car few days back and noticed that your tail lights dont light when you apply breaks. Can you fix them, please. Anyways, thank you for the information about the road and driving rules.

  2. I think what you published made a lot of sense.

    But, think about this, suppose you typed a catchier post title?
    I am not saying your content isn't solid., however what if you added a post title that makes people want
    more? I mean "What Are Those Dang Lines?" is a little
    plain. You might peek at Yahoo's home page and see how they create news headlines to grab people
    to click. You might try adding a video or a pic
    or two to get people excited about everything've got to say.
    Just my opinion, it might bring your posts a little bit more interesting.