Mangaluru: Woman in the driver's seat - The misunderstood lot

By Nibha Chaudhuri

Mangaluru, Feb 1: People say that woman cannot drive. That may have been true back in the days when women were not given basic human rights. But in the 21st century, with the evolution of equal rights, studies and reports from transport authorities around the world seem to prove the contrary. Not only can women drive, they have been shown to be better and more prudent drivers than their male counterparts. Why then does this myth of gender stereotyping on the road continue? Countless times I have heard from my friends, "Careful, it is a woman driver."

From my experience on the road I can safely say the danger on the road does not depend on the presence or absence of the Y chromosome in a driver. It depends on how many road rules the drivers are breaking. Take a brief look at the Motor Vehicles Act and consider how many rules are actually being followed. Let us take a look at what the Mangaloreans think on this subject.

In Mangaluru, the percentage of women driving has significantly increased in the last decade, according to the regional transport office. Badruddin, principal of Master Driving School, says, "Women make up at most 40% of the students who enroll at the school. Teaching women to drive isn’t much different from teaching men. Women learn just as fast as men. The rate of learning does not depend on gender but rather the individual’s capacity and educational background. Driving is a skill and like every other skill it takes time and effort to acquire."

Traffic officials at Jyothi Circle state that women operating vehicles is a good thing and must be encouraged. In their experience, car drivers are more prudent than riders. Riders tend to speed, though female riders are significantly less rash and adventurous on the road than male riders. However, one flaw they have observed in all female drivers is that they lack confidence while driving. This causes them to hold up traffic and attracts the wrath of other commuters, commonly called road rage. At junctions, female drivers are bullied by other drivers through incessant use of the horn and overtaking from all possible sides.

"Women should stay calm when they are on the road," say auto drivers at the auto stand next to the Mangalore City Corporation. "When a woman is driving, she should be aware of her surroundings. At turns and junctions, she must first check her mirrors and make sure that both sides are clear before she proceeds. They must also avoid applying sudden brakes as it becomes difficult for the driver behind them to react in such situations," they said, adding, "Women driving vehicles is a good thing as it encourages women to take charge of their lives, though it has significantly reduced our income."

Sanjay Chaudhuri has been driving for the past 40 years. He says, "Women drivers face a lot of discrimination, from sexist jokes and remarks to men constantly harassing them. I have seen buses and cab drivers go extremely close to women drivers, which is not the same with men and this in turn tends to make them more nervous. Driving mistakes made by women are brought under heavy scrutiny and criticism but most mistakes made by men are ignored. In my experience, the skill of driving does not depend on the gender. In fact, women observe more rules and are still blamed and labeled as bad drivers."

According to the women of Mangaluru, driving symbolizes freedom and independence. Women have to depend on their spouses, fathers or brothers for almost all their needs until they decide to take charge and learn to drive. "As soon as I learned to drive, all the household errands fell upon me," says Tara Pai. "From picking up kids from school and their extracurricular activities to grocery shopping, work is never ending. However, I still prefer being able to drive rather than having to depend on my husband for the tiniest of issues."

Asked how what she thought of the driving conditions in Mangaluru, Pai replied, "I would not recommend people to drive here. People on the road have become highly uncivilized. I find that drivers are very rash on the road and have no regard for the rules on the road."

Says Prasanna Hegde, "Road rage is prevalent mainly among men, though these days women are prone to lose their tempers on the road and hurl abuses as well. Men especially cannot stand being overtaken by women. One instance I remember is when I passed a parked autorickshaw, the driver started his auto and cut me off, glaring and abusing me the whole time. It all comes down to a matter of their ego being hurt."

Molly Chaudhuri, resident of Lalbagh, says, "Junctions see the worst traffic, and as a woman driver, it is doubly difficult as the men automatically assume the lack of driving skills on our part. They honk and try to bully their way through. In my experience, women tend to follow rules more but end up in accidents due to male aggravation. In Hampankatta, an autorickshaw coming from the wrong side on a one-way road hit my car and drove off without so much as a second glance. But for every inconsiderate driver, there are five helpful drivers out there. We should just be more prudent on the road.

"Bus drivers are the worst. They don’t seem to care about the rules or other people’s property. In times where I have been able to hold the bus driver accountable for the damage to my car, he denies me compensation stating that I have insurance. My husband has never faced this sort of aggressive and condescending behavior. Most drivers tend to take advantage of the docile nature of women," she said.

"Bus drivers are the worst," says Dr Shaila Shenoy. "Vehicles must maintain at least a three feet distance between each other. Buses tend to stand less than a foot away from my bumper at traffic signals and constantly blow their horns. As soon as they see a woman driving, they tend to speed up in an effort to overtake her, with no worries as to whether they hit the car or not."

In conclusion, driving and traffic misconduct on the road, at least in Mangaluru, can not be blamed on women. People must abandon the old assumption that women are incapable of driving. Further, experienced drivers, particularly men, should identify the lack of confidence seen on the faces, especially women, and try to help boost their confidence rather than bully them around or blame them for their mistakes.


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Comment on this article

  • Mayur Chawathe, Nanthoor

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    I want to say this firmly, women are excellent drivers, however where there are people who follow traffic rules and respect other fellow commuters. Here in india there is dearth of proper education to kids. We ourselves do not use zebra crossings, near signals. Walk diagonally on road, park in haphazard fashion.
    So my earnest request to all women here is that I feel you are the best drivers in the world as you are already challenging the evolution you have had and working against it.
    That being said it would be wonderful if you teach your lovely kids some road manners. In that way they surely wont face your situations tomorrow

    DisAgree [4] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Suresh Kumar, Manglore/Calgary

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    Ladies are not less then gents in all the fields, no doubt in that.. they are now working like men in all the sectors of our society, but to be frank with you all, i personally keep distance when i see lady driver in front of me especially in mangaluru just to avoid hitting her bumper bcoz of applying brake very hard not giving time for rear riders to stop...little more training on this will make women a perfect driver.

    DisAgree [8] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • jyothi, ullal

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    Ee gandasarige hengasaru drive maduvaga eno ondu thara thathsara. Hengasaru overtake madi hodare saku odisi kondu barthare... Comment odidare hengasara driving enoo olledilla e gandasara driving baree olledu antha barediddare adare e accident madodu 90% gandasare..:)Papa pilot ninda hididu cycle thanaka hengasaru gandasarige enoo kadime ella annodu oppikollali e gandasau ok.. thamashe saku...

    DisAgree [8] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya, Belman/Washington,DC.

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    Hotte Kichhu.....ondu divasa adige madadiddare( Bekku Oleyalli Malagidare) gottagute evarige Naari mahatva...


    DisAgree [3] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • JM, Mangalore

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    Recently, I had asked one of my female friend " Do you know to drive a car", her reply was " I have license". That made me laugh. This is the situation in India.
    These Driving schools in Mangalore only teach how to drive a Vehicle. What about following traffic rules?. Nothing of Driving Manners, when to use horns and when not to!!, why there are white lines on the road?. Lane driving?? Using indicators while switching lane??. Nothing..
    Probably even these school teachers are illiterate on these issues. The cause of accidents are not following traffic rules than not knowing to drive.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Anil, Kundapur, Dubai

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    A study conducted by the University of Michigan has determined that women get into more accidents than men, even though they drive less. They probably account for a good 10% of our accidents, too, while nagging from the passenger seat.

    Overall, men do about 60% of the driving, while women are in the 40% range. Even so, of the 6.5 million car crashes examined, a higher than expected number involved female drivers.

    The danger spots for women tend to be highway ramps, crossroads and T-junctions. Maybe they can’t make a concrete decision on which way to go.

    One theory for the higher crash ratio other than that women are putting on their makeup while driving is that women are shorter in general. That might reduce their visibility and lead to the higher toll of accidents.

    Now, if somebody could just pass this along to the insurance companies.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rita, Germany

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    Commenting on women driving is all over the same even in Germany is not better.When a woman goes slow or fast ,it is a woman.But they have to admit that women drive better concentrated and have less accident percentage.I remember in Belman in 1950 there was a woman driving a car.which was a Sensation.Thank God in India women have the Chance to drive than in in Saudi.But I should admit men have more understing to technic than women.Only they press more on pedal when they see women (Pretty),may be to impress them,or to Show they can drive better.Here they say a woman cant park .which also is again wrong.I did my licence at 54 out of quite emergency.Present time driving is seen as must.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya, Belman/Washington,DC.

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    Rita, Germany,

    I think all women of Belman are beautiful and pretty...I did not see this Belman woman driving in 1950 because I was not born then unfortunately...when I was a kid in 60s and 70s we had bullock carts running in Belman...really miss them...even if driver was drunk it(bullock cart) was going directly home in auto pilot mode like modern day Boeing 777....

    What say you Nancy Belman????


    DisAgree [3] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya, Belman/Washington,DC.

    Wed, Feb 04 2015

    Nancy Belman,

    First disagree is yours?

    Who pressed the second disagree,,, late Mr. Kudpa Mogera of bullock cart fame??

    I don't know what happened to his bullocks...hope they are not inside somebody's stomach...


    DisAgree [1] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Peter Lewis, Kalmady/k s a

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Traffic Police should take this matter seriously.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jigmig, Mangalore

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Beware of lady drivers. Their driving depends on their mood. More distance you keep! more better for you.

    DisAgree [19] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangaluru/Kuwait

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    R. Fernandes,

    I agree with your point of view.

    If any troubles you may please answer on my behalf too. I want to keep safe distance.

    DisAgree Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Fernandes, Dubai

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    I want to narrate, a funniest accident which had happened for my car in Dubai.
    On the signal I had stopped my car and was waiting for the signal to become green.
    I heard a sudden bump on my car from behind and I understood that some body had hit me.
    I moved my car to hard shoulder and got out of the car and I could see a beautiful lady looking bit tensed coming towards me asking apologies. Reason to hit my car was her high healed shoe got stuck with the accelerator and she was not able to pull her leg out.
    This is true story happened with me and that's why I say you can expect the unexpected. Hehe

    DisAgree [2] Agree [44] Reply Report Abuse


    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Miss Missing Driving Misunderstood...

    DisAgree [8] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Oliver Machado, Udupi - Sharjah

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Accidents occur due to violations of traffic rules.Some of the best roads are in Germany and the traffic rules are perfect,however accidents do occur at times.These should not be called accidents but negligence.Some Women have tendencies to be extra careful while driving in the beginning,however gain confidence and drive well.Women respect and adhere to the traffic rules and they seldom drive rash.Strict traffic rules and severe jail punishments and fines will certainly change the attitude towards safe driving.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nash padiyath, mangalore

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    the article isn't entirely wrong, but latest research doesn't say anything as such. We have a defense driving academy. Woman are scientifically known to be bad navigators and cause of this they tend to be over careful on the road which makes them a little hazardous then safe. Driving isn't all about one person, its a mental connection between drivers on the road, but what i have noticed is that woman wont do this,they tend to do it all their way. I m not being a chauvinist here but i m just saying what i observe and have done my studies on.

    DisAgree [8] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangaluru/Kuwait

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    We also have a powerful lady commentator in DW.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Fernandes, Dubai

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    I do not know whether Y chromosome plays a vital role or not.
    We have a saying in Dubai, If a woman drives on your left or right or front or back you need to keep your eyes and ears wide open because you can expect the unexpected. Anything can happen:))
    Now I am inviting trouble for myself hehe. Ok no more comments Bye :))

    DisAgree [7] Agree [31] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shankar, Mangalore

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Fernandes, its the same here in Mangalore too!

    DisAgree [5] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Steve, Bangalore/Dubai

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    I tend to disagree with your notion about women driving. I have been driving in UAE/Dubai for 15PLUS years, contrarily mu wife got her drivers license before me and she is a splendid driver may it be Sedan, SUV or Sports. I also know many women in my circle and office who are excellent drivers, there are few less confident one's on the road. But in comparison I have found most bad drivers are Arab nationals and few Keralites instead of women, thank God men are unable to bully a woman in UAE unlike in Mangalore. One thing I have always told my beautiful women friends, ignore the idiots on the road and concentrate on your driving and you will enjoy your drive and will be safe, dogs always bark at the elephant, but the elephant marches on majestically... and I like Lydia's comments, very true.

    DisAgree [8] Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Thank you Steve,

    I too am blessed with a wonderful gem as your wife is. He sat next to me when I propped up my driving, yelled when I did not maintain lane distance or went too much to the outer edge when taking 'U' turns. It surely helped me a lot and he is reminded of when I encounter newcomers while I now hit the road.

    I know your wife did not have this experience from you but she surely has a very supportive partner.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [4] Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya, Belman/Washington,DC.

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    If you are talking about Kadrimai...I absolutely agree...she is our friend, philosopher and guide...if you doubts ask our own Bahandumaam...


    DisAgree [1] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Royston, Chennai

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Its wrong notion that people have held in their mind that only male can do things like driving, heavy jobs, etc. and when do the same work society looks at them quite differently. Time has come today to give place for the women in every sector of life. The notion of discrimination against the complementary sex as to be stopped. I feel women can do the assigned jobs much more efficiently and with no mess. Lets stop thinking unitary way that women are meant to do only certain jobs in the world and rest must be done by male. Lets appreciate each others work.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Joe Britto, Nakre/Bangalore

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    When Women do the toughest job of propagating the Human Race and we are seeing that women are leading even in the Army and Navy, we simply cannot imagine a job that women can do better than her counterpart (Man) who indeed should actually be called the weaker sex. Today the Woman is not only the caretaker of the home, but in many cases the bread & butter winner of the family. WE must no forget that once we did have a powerful woman P.M and also Woman President as well.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [26] Reply Report Abuse

  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Earlier it was just the males that were sent to school, educating girls was considered a waste because she was bound to cook/clean in her in-laws house.

    Slowly this trend changed and schools were filled with students of both genders. A man could peacefully concentrate on his work because there was an educated wife in the house to help his school-going children. Who, otherwise, were waiting for their father to return from work to help in their studies.

    Why am I giving this example ? Its is just because our opinion about women driving a car is as primitive as the above example. Do not waste time in changing your thinking about women in your family driving because when you suffer a stroke, believe me, all your sons will be out but its your daughter or daughter-in-law who will rush you to the hospital.

    Me ? Yes ! I drive and my spouse is not bothered if he has to stay back over some urgent work on any given day - our children do not miss their Karate/Music/Dance classes.

    DisAgree [10] Agree [71] Reply Report Abuse

  • sam, world

    Sun, Feb 01 2015

    Back in the day, people lived in joint families. Men worked in fields and very few were educated. Most people were farmers and tilled the land. The others served the King and became servants or warriors. It is only the nobility and a few who were educated. Women assisted men in the fields and grooming of children within the joint family system. The Priest was usually a highly educated person in matters of faith, theology, science, politics who worked along with the people and explained to them God's plan of salvation and built their faith just as the apostles of Jesus Christ did. Modern life has changed all that. We do not have a joint family and have closed our eyes to God and have rushed towards glorifying man. It is not that women cannot drive cars or cannot study, but man and woman pride themselves in these acts and spend less time on God. There are problems in both joint and nuclear families, but the speed at which man has separated from God has been exponential in the nuclear family system.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Anil Rodriguez , Kundapur, Dubai

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    if this case happens, i wud prefer calling a cardiac Ambulance. Not prefer my Daughter or daughter in law drive.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Mon, Feb 02 2015


    You calling an Ambulance ? You need someone to tell you keep breathing - and that someone could be your wife/daughter/DIL !

    Eh ! Call Ambulance !!!!

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Anil Rodriguez , Kundapur, Dubai

    Mon, Feb 02 2015

    Dear Lydia,

    why should i depend on females? there are other men alive in this world in case of emergencies

    DisAgree [1] Agree [2] Report Abuse

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