Women instructors instil confidence in homemakers and college girls and make them better drivers
For those who regularly take their morning walk in places such as Race Course Road, K. Pudur and Othakadai, the sight of a steady stream of driving school vehicles going past them is not an uncommon occurrence but what surprises the discerning is the rise in number of ‘women only vehicles.’ These vehicles are occupied by women learners and women instructors.
With more number of women in Madurai keen to learn driving, officials from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) say that this has led to a steady growth in the number of women instructors. “We are comfortable when women instructors teach driving. Girls are at ease especially while learning two-wheelers from women instructors,” says L.R. Sangeetha Priya, an Assistant Professor in Fatima College, who completed her driving classes recently.
S. Nazeera, a private school teacher, had apprehensions on learning to ride a two-wheeler. “The moment I joined a driving school run by women for women, my doubts were discarded. I did not even know how to ride a bicycle. Today I am confident of riding my two-wheeler through even the congested streets of Madurai,” she says.
Women instructors say that more number of women in Madurai are keen on driving the vehicles themselves, rather than taking a ride in vehicles driven by their family members.
Cars safer than bikes
Malarvizhi, a woman instructor, says, “The number of women who learn driving in Madurai has significantly increased. A large number of college girls and homemakers are taking up driving classes.” According to Mrs. Malarvizhi, more women prefer learning and driving cars than two-wheelers.
“As more families in Madurai buy cars, women show interest in learning to drive a car. They find the cars safer than motorcycles,” she adds.
B.M. Priya, another woman instructor, says their tribe needs lot of patience. “Women expect their instructors to be polite and kind while teaching. So our driving school provides an ambience that is comfortable for the woman learner,” Mrs. Priya adds.
Love their job
Most of the women instructors say they love their job, saying it gives them more family time.
“This job allows me to spend more time with my school-going children as I only have to work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” says Mrs. Malarvizhi.
Mrs. Priya left a job in an acupuncture centre to become a driving instructor since the work timings suited her.
“I take classes only for women and most of my students, being homemakers, come to the classes after sending their children to school. It is convenient for me also as I can take care of my children,” she explains.
Not all women instructors restrict themselves to teaching women alone. “I do take classes for a few men too. But all of them are my acquaintances and I am comfortable while teaching them,” says Mrs. Malarvizhi.
S. Girija Mani, a driving school owner, started her career as an instructor.
“In 2000, after working for a few years as an instructor, I started my own school. Today, I take classes for not less than 20 women each day and my husband teaches the men,” she says.
While the lower age limit in the driving schools is 18 years, there is no upper age limit as such, she says.
“In my driving school I have taught driving for women aged between 19 and 58 years. Most of the women who come to join the driving classes doubt their driving skill and are not confident at first. When they approach me, the first thing I do is instil confidence in them,” she says.
J. Poornalatha, a brake inspector at the Madurai Central RTO, confirms that more women are seen behind the wheels in the recent years.
“In my three years of service in Madurai till date, I have given licences to around 30,000 women, the maximum being two-wheeler licences,” she says.
Ms. Poornalatha says this trend is to be welcomed as women are more careful while driving than men. “From 2011 to 2013, I have not come across any major incident of accident caused by a woman. There have been very few minor incidents of accidents involving women,” she adds.
Women, who were hesitant to take up driving tests a few years ago, are much confident of late, she says.
“We show no partiality between men and women during driving tests. College girls attend driving classes during holidays. But the homemakers, who attend classes and obtain licences, practically come for driving every day. They are well aware of the traffic rules and are law abiding on the roads,” she says.
Regional Transport Officer (Madurai Central) K. Kalyanakumar also asserts that there have been no major road accidents involving women in Madurai. “Women show exemplary interest in learning the road rules even during the LLR classes. They abide by the laws. Most of the women instructors in Madurai are well experienced,” he says.
Mr. Kalyanakumar says a driving instructor should possess an ITI degree on motor mechanism, five years of driving licence and should have underwent at least one month of the instructors’ course.
“Not many driving instructors in Madurai have these mandatory requirements. We are insisting them to gain them,” he concludes.