With the steep increase of two-wheelers in the city, there is a corresponding rise in the number of accidents and fatalities involving head injuries.
Pune has the unique reputation of a vehicle city with its riders least concerned about their own safety. Despite rules, campaigns, constant drives and action, there is no change on the ground with no diligent enforcement or drop in the number of riders with head injuries being rushed to hospitals.
Staying committed to our campaign for the strict enforcement of helmets. we spoke to medical professionals,activists and informed citizens to ascertain their views on this imminent and urgent need:
Dr Prasaana Awatey, Trauma and Emergency Medicine expert says, Every week we deal with 9-10 accident cases out of which almost 4-5 suffer from head injuries caused due to the absence of helmets.
And the riders are mostly between the age group of 18- 35 including students, professionals and businessman. Reckless driving without using helmets often lead to fatal accidents, which could have been avoided if the rider was using one.
While there could be many reasons for an accident, the rider is much safer with this safety gear. The moment an individual meets with an accident and if the head is not protected, it is bound to take an impact which can turn fatal.
Vinita Deshmukh, Journalist, Author and RTI Activist echoes this sentiment and says ” ‘The law with regards to helmets should be absolutely strict because two-wheeler riders are more prone to head injuries during an accident.
Often people use the excuse of slow moving traffic in Pune, however, it is not the speed, but the impact of the fall on the road. These injuries can result in anything from a minor head injury such as a concussion, to a fatal head injury’’
There can be no compromise – Pune’s Police traffic department has from time to time warned people that it is these head injuries that are leading to fatal accidents but no one bothers about taking precautions.
Being very passionate about this issue, I would like to quote from the WHO which enlightens you on the scientific basis of what actually happens when your head hits the ground after an accident, irrespective of what speed.
As per the World Health Organisation report, this is what happens when you have a head injury: The technical expertise behind the design of high-quality helmets is based on an understanding of what happens to the head in the event of a motorcycle crash.
An appreciation of the anatomy of the head is important in understanding the mechanism of injuries to the head and brain: The brain is enclosed within a rigid skull. The brain “sits” on bones that make up the base of the skull. The spinal cord passes through a hole in the underside of the brain. Under the skull, adhering to the bones is a tough tissue called the dura that surrounds the brain. Between the brain and the dura is a space containing cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain tissue from mechanical shock. The brain “floats” in the cerebrospinal fluid but it can only move about 1 millimetre in any direction. The skull is covered by the scalp, which provides some additional protection.
When a motorcycle or bicycle is involved in a collision, the rider is often thrown from the cycle. If the rider’s head hits an object, such as the ground, the head’s forward motion is stopped, but the brain, having its own mass, continues to move forward until it strikes the inside of the skull. It then rebounds, striking the opposite side of the skull. This type of injury can result in anything from a minor head injury, such as concussion, to a fatal head injury.’’
So, where is the question of compromise on this headgear?
Nikhil Kadam, Social Activist says, “According to recent data revealed by United Nation says that wearing an appropriate helmet improves chances of bikers survival by 42 per cent. They are easy enough to buy as well. You can find a good one on Helmet Hunt and order it online!
Also according to the data released by the transport ministry, almost 28 people die every day for not wearing Helmets.
The number of two-wheelers in Pune is constantly rising, however, the road length is the same and to add to this, our undisciplined riders.
Bike Riders flout all the rules and two-wheelers remain the most unsafe mode of transport as it not only risk their own lives, but other’s too. The Traffic Police must take this seriously and ensure compliance in the city. There is no room for indifference or incompetency in this matter.
Every day we have numerous initiatives started by Pune Traffic Police, to ensure an individuals safety, however in the process of getting the city disciplined with all the new rules. the very basic and important rules are being ignored, Kadam added.
Jaya Banerjee, Social Activist opines, “The city is growing every day and with it, obviously, the number of vehicles keep increasing. The number of accidents has increased and we see that every day.
Road rage seems to have increased too. With the increase in accidents, it’s, unfortunately, becoming the new normal, which is dangerous.”
I believe the law is in place, individuals do get fined on and off by the traffic policemen. However, it’s more important for every rider and pillion rider to know that they must wear a helmet for their safety.
It isn’t something for only the law enforcement to implement, it’s also a personal responsibility.
Roads are the biggest contributor, no matter what the administration seems to do, the quality of our roads is just not up to the mark. Potholes, gravel lying around, sudden bumps in edges of the road, all of this contributes to dangerous riding roads, especially in the rain and in the night. PMC should really run a check on their road contractors. The funny thing is, all of PMC, local politicians, everyone I suppose travels on these same roads! Irony!
Banerjee further added that Road contractors and the PMC should ensure that all standards and procedures as on paper are followed. Ride and drive slow, avoid speeding, lives are more important than speed.
Follow traffic signals, to avoid undue incidents and accidents of vehicles and pedestrians. Pedestrians should also be careful while on the road, and not run across roads. Traffic discipline is important for every driver, rider, cyclist, and pedestrian on the roads.
In my opinion, utmost sincerity is needed by both the police and citizens to ensure rules are implemented, and this is an important reason why the government is not able to enforce wearing helmets, says Rajesh Adhav, Techie.
The city has a lot of underage drivers, kids between the age group of 12-15 who are seen riding motorbikes in Pune. Such negligence at such a young age is giving these kids a license to break rules and they think it is being cool.
Wearing helmet has already been made compulsory all over Maharashtra, yet in Pune, only one out of ten wear one.
Whenever government implements such rules, traffic policemen ensure that they are followed well by the citizens, However, when it actually comes to catching such people, the force we have in the city isn’t sufficient to haul so many people at a time.
It should be an individuals responsibility to safeguard themselves and also the pedestrians, As per my opinion, the safety or the measures regarding own safety should be decided by the people themselves.
It is important for people to understand that rules are forced on us for our own safety/
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