Shama Nimkar and Stephen Neil Gershom
The number of two wheeler accidents has come down by 50% in the first 9 months of 2016, compared with last year. 2015 saw 17, 70, 000 two wheeler accidents being reported and the number has dropped drastically this year, as only 8, 77,000 have been reported in the first 9 months. It has now been a few months since the Bengaluru traffic police imposed the compulsory helmet rule on pillion riders too, which is a great move towards the safety of the people, but are the people following it? NSoJ set out to check if people are concerned about their own safety.
Bengaluru is known to have the highest number of two wheelers for any metropolitan city in the world and this fact shows whenever one gets on the roads of Bengaluru. Two wheelers outnumber the cars and people find using two wheelers to be more convenient within the city, but does that allow one to compromise on safety?
Many two wheeler riders treat the wearing of helmets as a burden which they do not want to bear and wear helmets just so that they would not have to pay the steep fine which has recently been increased by the traffic police. This ends with the commuters wearing helmets which are better off being called hats and some still do not wear even these ‘hats’.
Many try to give reasons like hair-fall and irritation of the skin to avoid wearing helmets, but that does not help much when the number of accidents are considered and especially when the number of deaths due to head injuries is looked into. Many people use helmets as a fashion experiment. The newly found trend of using a cap helmet to cover your head and a scarf or handkerchief to cover your chin-nose area is increasing. Research states that the chin area has the most injury prone area in an accident with two-wheelers.
Riders don’t take their safety seriously. When caught by the traffic police for not wearing a helmet, riders try to escape the heavy fine. Many offenders are seen disrespecting the traffic police when they tried to catch hold of them due to violation of rules.
When asked about the number of patients brought in with a head injury on a daily basis, Dr. N.C.Prakash, Consultant Neuro and Spine Surgeon at Hosmat Hospital said,”8-10 individuals are regularly admitted and treated due to road accidents leading to major or minor trauma.” He further said, “The severity of the head injuries has gone down after the mandatory rule was imposed to use helmets for pillion riders. The need for surgery has gone down. A faster recovery has been noticed amongst the patients.”
In a conversation with Mr. Gaurav Goyal who has been involved in the business of selling helmets for a few years, we found out that the sale ratio of ISI approved full-face helmets to cap helmets is 40:60. The major reason why people opt for cap helmets is because they are cheaper compared to the full-faced ones which are generally branded. The materials used in making the cap helmets are of a cheaper quality than that used for the full-faced helmets. While a cap helmet costs one Rs 100 – Rs 400, a full faced branded one ranges from Rs 500 to Rs 2500. Some find the full-faced ones to be uncomfortable and heavy.
Raju, another sales-person at the shop said,” People prefer half helmets over full as they are more convenient. They are light-weighted and do not cause sweating like the full-faced helmets. Two-wheelers are used to cover short distances as well. Thus, people wear the cap helmets as a form of easy get-away from the traffic police and not for personal safety.” “India also has a large market of fake helmets inscribed with ISI trademarks. These are sold at a cost of 600-1000. These are manufactured in Delhi”, said Raju.
People need to be aware of the repercussions of not valuing life and should be more responsible towards their own safety and get into a habit of using helmets which are efficient enough to protect them from serious injuries in case of accidents, and not should wear helmets just to hoodwink the police.