Archives for posts with tag: driving

Ok, so this month I’m celebrating the fact that I’ve had my Sri Lankan driving licence for a year, and I think I have finally worked out the ‘unofficial’ road rules! Ha!


1. There is no need to use an indicator – unless you’re in the right lane, and you want to turn left. Then you must use the right indicator.

colombo-182. There is no need to turn on your headlights until way after the sun has set. And then put them on high beam and keep them on high beam – no matter what.

3. It is OK to overtake 4 cars, 2 trucks and an ox cart on a bend with a double white line, and expect everyone to slam on the brakes and pull over to the side of the road when you have to squeeze back in because there is a speeding bus coming the other way.

4. It is not mandatory to follow lane markings – the middle of the road is an extra lane, the side of the road is an extra lane.colombo-3

5. As a bus driver you don’t have to worry about bus stops – you can stop anywhere.  Actually you don’t even have to stop – the conductor will pull the passengers on as they run along side the bus.

6. One way roads – as long as you choose which one way you’re going, you’re fine!

three wheeler-17. Use of horn is mandatory – and has many meanings – I’m behind you, I’m overtaking, I’m turning, get a move on, watch out! It is particularly important to use when the car in front of you cannot move – but you want to let them know they need to get out of your way!

8. As soon as you see the police, slam on the brakes, and go 20 km below the speed limit. As soon as you’ve passed them, go back to doing 20 km over the speed limit!

9. If you have to ride a bicycle at night, make sure the bike has no lights, that you’re wearing dark clothing, and that you’re riding on the wrong side of the road.

10. But in the end – you can’t take this post, or driving in Sri Lanka too seriously! 🙂 You have to just go with the flow!colombo-9



driving licence

driving licence

So it was time to get a Sri Lankan driving licence. And on paper it all sounded so simple – take your current driving licence, and your passport with your visa to the Department of Motor Traffic, and with an exchange of paperwork, a temporary or lifelong licence will be issued.

Well, I should have known, that as with any bureaucratic process nothing is that easy or quick! Yes, Carolyn, just think about how long a visit to the post office can take; or how long you waited at the department of immigration to extend your visa!

So, I tried to get through the process this morning…

Jude, the tuk-tuk driver, picked me up at 8.30. I didn’t realise quite where we were going or how long it would take to get there! By the time we got there, and parked in the midst of all the buses, cars, and tuk-tuks with giant ‘L’ plates on them, we had to make our way through the 100s waiting for their driving tests.  But we were there for a different purpose so we wouldn’t get caught up with that?

Mmm… apparently not. We all had to go for a medical check up, so I had to join the end of the queue. With only 1 doctor who was already running late.

We heard about a clinic 15 minutes back closer to the Colombo. So off we went in the tuk-tuk again. Of course, for this particular medical check, you can’t go to any doctor or clinic – they have to be approved by the Department of Motor Traffic. So there aren’t many around! We finally found it. I was very unceremoniously whisked in to be weighed and measured, and then sent to the counter to pay for this part of the process, and wait for the next step. By the time we left there, we had been going for over 2 hours and were no closer to getting a licence!

At that stage, I gave up on the process for the day – if we had gone back to the Department of Motor Traffic, I’d still be waiting there now! And I had appointments and other things scheduled for the day.

So Jude and I have a plan – now that we know the process, know where everything is, and have found out the opening times, we will start extra early when I am next in Colombo to conquer the Sri Lankan driving licence process once and for all!