“Helmets are very important and its not only about you, its also about your family members dependent on you…
Head injuries can be life threatening or cause permanent disability which will not only make the patient dependent on others, but render the family members helpless and crippled,” says Dr Roshan Palresha, Head of emergency Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital.
Palresha shared that they register (at this hospital) 15 to 20 (moderate to serious) accident cases which could have been prevented if the victims wore a helmet.
Even though The Motor Vehicle Act clearly states that driver and pillion riders failing to wear protective head gear would be punished and fined by law, the citizens of Pune remain indifferent to the trouble they get themselves and others into by not wearing a helmet.
What is keeping the city and the police force from taking this head on and ensuring complete enforcement? The same force did it with seat belts and swiftly too. Why isn’t human life priority?
“Most officials we have met till date are of the opinion that unless awareness is built, people will not get to know about it.
“We refuse to buy that idea,” said Sandeep Gaikwad, Advocacy Coordinator for Road Safety at Parisar NGO.
“Around 2005, a helmet awareness campaign was initiated in Pune but it wasn’t carried out in the proper manner due to opposition from the public.
Even now, the officials aren’t keen on having a helmet enforcement campaign. One of the reasons could be the pressure or denial to wear helmets from the citizens themselves for various reasons.
“Moreover, some officials opine that you should allow the citizens to decide if they want to wear helmets or not and it shouldn’t be made compulsory. Others are of the opinion that the driving speed within the city limits isn’t high enough to warrant a helmet. We disagree!
Statistics show that in the last three years there have been almost 600 fatalities and only one of them was wearing a helmet. So, even though the speed is low, accidents are happening in Pune.
Additionally, high fines will certainly help enforcing the law effectively, but it was unheard of till now. We also suggest to let people pay at least Rs 500 as fine as this will then bother them. Also, enforcement campaigns will be helpful but our agenda is to tell people about the benefits of wearing a helmet, that they can save many lives.
“Though our authorities are well informed that not wearing a helmet is punishable by law according to the Motor Vehicle Act, they do not want any criticism or any reaction from the public for strict enforcement.
There is always a backlash from the public and many political representatives who might have a difference of opinion. Hence, they avoid getting into any kind of serious action.
“Helmet compliance is hence, a very delicate issue in Pune. Having had such a background, even the official are in a defensive mode and do not want to be at the receiving end of mud slinging from the citizens or political organisations.” adds Gaikwad.
“The worst is, people keep their gadgets safe but when it comes to protecting themselves, they simply fall back,” says an enthusiastic biker, social activist and Founder, ‘Mission Safer Roads’, Kalyanaraman Venkatesan.
“Hence, I started conducting helmet awareness sessions across Pune to educate people on how to buy a helmet and what to look at while buying one. Moreover, helmet enforcement is much part of the system, but when it comes to our safety, it should be our responsibility to start wearing it.
Strict enforcement by the authorities should go hand in hand with greater awareness about the appropriate use of helmets.
“I also figured that that even if people want to wear a helmet, they don’t know how and which one to buy. The helmet needs to fit us right, otherwise the entire purpose is lost.
“Among the handful who do wear a helmet, one cannot be sure if they are using an appropriate one. Apart from wearing one, it is also necessary to wear the one that fits right.
“Also, a helmet does have an expiry date. One impact and the life of the helmet is over,” he adds.
#All views expressed in this article are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
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