Indian taxi driver Harpreet Dev is well-known in his hometown of Bhatinda, Punjab, for his amazing reverse driving skills. The 30-year-old has been driving his cab in reverse for the past 11 years. Harpreet is so used to it now that he says he doesn’t trust himself to drive forwards anymore! He even has a special government license that allows him to drive backwards in any state in the northern part of India.
Harpreet’s passion for reverse driving started in 2003, when his faithful Fiat Padmini got stuck in reverse gear late one night. “I was outside the city, I had no money, so I thought of driving the car backwards until Bhatinda,” he said. “Then I drove backwards and later on I gained confidence.”
That’s when he realised that he was really on to something, so the next morning he painted the words ‘Back Gear Champion’ on the side of the car and redesigned its gearbox to have four reverse gears and only one forward.
After years of practice, Harpreet can now comfortably drive backwards at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. An ambulance siren attached to the top of the car warns unsuspecting drivers and pedestrians about his peculiar driving. “I take all the care I can to protect the other drivers on the road,” he declared proudly.
“I always wanted to do something different, something unique,” he added. “In simpler terms I reversed the complete gear mechanism of the car so that I get maximum speeds while driving backwards.” In 2005, Dev drove backwards all the way from Rajasthan, India, to Lahore, in Pakistan, to promote peace between the two countries.
Sadly, Harpreet’s dream of making it into the Guinness Book of World Records shattered when he learned that a person named John Smith, from the UK, had already pulled off the stunt. In order to break Smith’s record, Harpreet had to produce non-stop video footage of his reverse driving, and he was unable to do so.
Harpreet’s bizarre driving habit won him fame in his home town, but has had some negative effects as well – he now suffers from severe back and neck problems. “I do have pains in the neck – frequent pains in the neck – and I have had severe vomiting in the past,” he admitted. “I have got a severe backbone problem from driving so fast in reverse, because my whole body gets contorted.”
But Harpreet believes that it has all been worth the while. “Achieving something special is never easy,” he explained. “It is not giving in that counts.”