Women in Chennai can’t take a driving test if they’re wearing jeans/capris, according to an RTO official who actually sent back driving license applicants for wearing ‘inappropriate clothes’. Chennai’s KK Nagar RTO has sent back multiple women who came for the driving test wearing jeans/capris, with officials calling such attire inappropriate. For the record, there’s no specific dress code for taking a driving test in India. Two Chennai women, who recently appeared for driving tests in KK Nagar RTO, had to go back home, and return wearing the more ‘acceptable’ Salwar Kameez, according to a TOI report.
Here’s what the first woman had to say,
I was wearing jeans and a sleeveless top. But I really wanted the licence, so I rushed home and returned in a salwar-kameez.
Another woman, who faced a similar ordeal about 10 days back had this to say,
I was asked to go home and dress decently when I went to the driving test in capris. When I argued, the inspector gathered a few of his colleagues who also justified the unwritten rule. “I didn’t want to lose my chance to get a licence, so I got home and returned wearing salwar-kameez.
The RTO official/officials who actually made the women change into clothing that was ‘appropriate’ have not been named. Chennai is a hot and humid place, and certain forms of clothing may be more uncomfortable than others. Jeans and Capris are often the most comfortable and convenient items of clothing for both men and women. Therefore, it’s quite surprising that the RTO officials consider these common forms of clothing, which cannot be deemed indecent by any stretch of imagination, as inappropriate.
Also, there has been no clear indication as to whether driving/riding in jeans/capris is a safety hazard, which could possibly be a reason for the RTO inspectors sending back the women. If this is indeed the case, the law must clearly indicate that driving/riding in jeans/capris is actually dangerous so that drivers/riders become aware and change their dressing appropriately. However, if it’s not the case, the RTO officials must be pulled up for what seems to be clearly beyond their mandate.
In the past, a superbike brand in India – Triumph attracted controversy after one of its dealerships refused a test ride to a man wearing sandals. Later, it was revealed that it was Triumph’s official policy to discourage people wearing inadequate safety gear from test riding its superbikes for safety reasons. While such policies actually encourage safer riding/driving, we’re not sure what ends the RTO inspectors’ self-made rules seek to achieve.