Archives for posts with tag: traffic

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




colombo-9Ok, I’m probably being a bit cynical here but I am beginning to wonder if there is ever a good time to drive in Colombo?!

Speaking to locals and long term residents, one ends up with such a long list of when NOT to drive in Colombo:colombo-3

  • don’t leave at 4.30 pm – you’ll get caught in peak hour traffic;
  • and forget about 12.30 – 1.30 pm – that’s when school is finishing for the day and buses and tuk tuks are doing the school run!

three wheeler-1

  • then of course there’s the morning school run…
  • the rain always causes havoc – no matter what time it is!
  • at any time the president could be coming through with road blocks and diversions and police everywhere – or it could just be a family member or some other VVIP…
  • leaving town for a long weekend, or returning at the end of a weekend is painful too…

colombo-7I’m sure there are a few more conditions that could be added to the list!

As I seem to have been caught in all of these situations recently, I begin to wonder if there is ever a good time to drive in Colombo? Maybe at midnight?

colombo-6Saying that you’re stuck in traffic is always a valid excuse in Colombo!

But it does provide some great people watching and photo opportunities!! Belching buses, overloaded tuk tuks, white gloved police officers strategically placed at busy intersections so that all vehicles ignore them, bikes and motor bikes weaving in and out of the traffic, overloaded trucks bearing down on pedestrians and of course over all of this, the constant sound of horns blaring at a range of pitches!colombo-7

colombo-18All this providing a colourful snapshot into daily life in Colombo…