Local police soft on women drivers?
Women drivers in Chandigarh are either very particular about following rules or the city's traffic police has a soft corner for them. Statistics of the tickets issued to women for traffic offences suggest this.
In the last three years - from 2010 to Oct 2012 - only four tickets were issued to women for drunken driving. Against this, over 4,000 men were booked. During the same period, 38 women were fined for not wearing seat belts against over 18,000 men prosecuted.
Six women were issued tickets for triple-riding against over 3,500 men booked. Sixty women were fined for over-speeding against 6,000 men. One hundred and 10 women were hauled up for jumping red lights against 40,000 men.
Chandigarh, which has the highest vehicle density in the country - over 800,000 registered vehicles for a population of just over one million - has a large number of females driving cars and riding two-wheelers.
"We are keeping a close tab on women violators but in most of the cases, they prefer to play smart," Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Kamaldeep Singh told IANS.
"They try to take advantage when there is no policewoman. But we are trying to make sure that a policewoman is present near the challaning (issuing traffic tickets) spot so that offenders are not let off," he added.
Some senior officers admitted that in the majority of cases, women try to influence the policemen.
"It is always difficult to handle women violators. They try to influence our men by calling their family members, men friends or an NGO. Chandigarh is a small place and most people know someone influential," said a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
He said that he himself occasionally gets requests from friends requesting him to urge the traffic police to spare offenders.
"It is embarrassing at times, but people do it," he said.
Social activists in the field of streamlining the traffic flow to control accidents have demanded that women offenders should be booked on a par with male offenders.
Harman Singh Sidhu, who runs the NGO Arrive Safe here, told IANS: "We have observed that there has been a soft corner for women drivers among the police. When they are caught for traffic rules violations, they are able to go scot-free for various reasons."
"There is acommon procedure for issuing driving licences to men and women and the traffic rules are also same. So, there should be same parameters for challaning and punishing both men and women," said Sidhu, who has been also associated with the Chandigarh traffic police to make driving safer on the city's roads.