The number of people who die in two-wheeler accidents double every year in Mumbai. Last year, 171 two-wheeler accidents were fatal, killing 178 bikers. Sixty per cent of these deaths were because the bikers were not wearing helmets, a police official said.
To educate bikers and pillion riders on the need to wear helmets, Hindustan Times kicks-off the ‘Say Yes to Helmets’ campaign, with a three-part series, which will emphaise on safety first on Mumbai’s roads.
According to a study by the Indian Institute of Technology — Bombay (IIT-B), for every 10 fatal road accidents in India, three people died because of inappropriate post-crash response and inefficient law enforcement. Based on WHO’s 2013 grading on efficiency of law enforcement this study found India at the bottom of the 10 countries considered. The disregard for safety laws, the researchers said, is associated not just with education and cultural diversity, but also inefficient law enforcement.
Deaths from riders not following the rules from metros such as Mumbai also placed India at the bottom in law enforcement among Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Morocco, South Korea, the UK, and the United States, said the study on road accidents and the effectiveness of law enforcement between 2009 and 2012, co-authored by the graduate student from National Graduate School of Sustainable Civil Engineering, Transport and Planning in Lyon, France.
The analysis recorded 42 injury crashes —a crash with at least one person getting medical treatment — for every 1,00,000 people.
With more people using two-wheelers and cars, 52% of the deaths were of people between 25 and 65 years. This represents only 41% of the population. Deaths of riders below 25 stood at 31.1%, even though they represent only 20% of the population.
The idea of not needing helmets starts with cycling, according to Avijit Maji, assistant professor, civil engineering department, IIT-B.
“The initiation of someone heavily dependent on a two-wheeler begins with investing in a bicycle. Once comfortable with cycling, a person progresses to a motorised two-wheeler, gets a license and starts riding. The riders’ sense is that they didn’t need a helmet while cycling, they don’t need one for a bike. What they fail to realise is they are gradually gaining higher speed,” Maji said.
“Non-compliance is mainly owing to behavioural aspects. Bikers know helmets are important and should be used, but they just don’t use it. They think it won’t affect them. They think accidents won’t happen to them, until it happens,” said Dr G Gururaj, head, WHO Collaborating Centre for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, Centre for Public Health, National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru. “Strict enforcement of a legislation that is uniform, and a heavy penalty are the only ways to get reduce accidents.”
The IIT study pointed out that crashes in India are life-threatening because of poor post-crash response and law enforcement. “Efficient law enforcement and effective safety education that takes into account cultural diversity are key to reducing traffic-related injuries and fatalities in low-income countries like India.”