'Unnecessary distractions': Bus drivers in this state barred from talking to women seated next to them

Updated: Feb 19, 2020, 14:00 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Coimbatore

New rule by Tamil Nadu government shocks bus drivers, after complaints of distractions due to small talks surfaced.

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

Coimbatore: A new, bizarre rule by the Tamil Nadu government has come as a shock to bus drivers in Coimbatore, as it does not allow the drivers of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses to talk to women seated beside them, Times of India reported.

The government issued a circular on January 19, warning departmental action against violators, after severe complaints of drivers getting distracted after getting engaged in small talk surfaced. An official said that engaging in small talk can lead to an accident in just a 'fraction of a second,' and thus, the rule was brought to force to avoid such 'unnecessary distractions.'

A member of the Inaiyum Kaigal workers’ union said there have been instances where drivers did not halt at stops even after the conductors repeatedly asking them to. "Some remain so engrossed in conversation that they resume driving without ascertaining whether the passengers are boarding or alighting," he alleged.

For the drivers, such conversations with either women or men, come as a much-needed break. A TNSTC bus driver was quoted in the report as saying that a similar rule was introduced earlier which disallowed bus conductors from occupying seats in the front. Also, drivers, especially in the night-shift, found it difficult having no one to talk to.

The seating pattern of the buses in Coimbatore allows women to occupy front seats, while men occupy the last rows. If the women don’t find seats vacant in the bus, they sit on the seats near the bonnet. "If talking to women is their problem, let them change the seating patterns," the driver said.

With Coimbatore being home to many offices, women’s colleges and textile factories, finding people sitting on the seats near the bonnet is a usual sight.

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