Women can now have secure, smooth rides in city

Ola launched a gender sensitivity training programme for its drivers in association with the Bengaluru traffic police on Saturday.

Aiming to ensure traffic safety and combat recent reports of women suffering sexual harassment and abduction while using ride-sharing apps, Ola plans to introduce a number of new initiatives in the coming months. 

The initiatives — gender sensitivity workshops, eye check-ups, local partnerships and awareness campaigns — fall under Ola's 'Street Safe' umbrella programme, which was launched in May.

Collaborating with the Bengaluru traffic police, Ola, at a press conference on Saturday, discussed the initiatives and launched the eye care programme as part of the 'Road Safety Month'. 

Anupam Agrawal, DCP (Traffic-East), addressed concerns about the safety of women in transit and advocated more thorough background checks while hiring the drivers, noting that harassment in the ride-sharing world is "not something new". 

"Backgrounds should be checked thoroughly. Because, if you look at their backgrounds, most of the drivers were driving autos earlier. Now they drive cabs, so there will be some criminal elements. Unless we check them properly and throw them out, these incidents will keep happening," Agrawal told DH

Just last month, an Uber driver threatened to drop a woman passenger in a deserted area if she did not cancel the ride. A few days later, a different driver threw a shoe at a woman passenger when she confronted him about starting his meter before the pick-up. In June, an Ola driver allegedly molested a woman and forced her to strip en route to the airport. 

Babu G R, a 32-year-old driver who has been with Ola since it started operations in Bengaluru way back in 2012, attended Saturday's event to get his eyes checked for the very first time. A regular at Ola events, Babu said he planned to attend the company's gender sensitivity training and encourage fellow drivers to join the programme. When asked about the greatest threat to road safety today, Babu identified overcrowding and road conditions as his most pressing concerns. 

Like Babu, dozens of other drivers also lined up to check their visual acuity on Saturday.

In 2016, a study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) tested the visual acuity of 387 drivers in Karnataka and found that only 52% of the drivers failed at least one vision test. Moreover, drivers with at least one visual disability are far more likely to cause a crash than those without a visual disability, according to the study. 

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Women can now have secure, smooth rides in city

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