Say Yes To Helmets: Cops, you and I, helmets must for all | pune news | Hindustan Times
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Say Yes To Helmets: Cops, you and I, helmets must for all

People need to change their mindset about helmets and focus more on the safety of all

pune Updated: Sep 16, 2017 15:19 IST
Shalaka Shinde
A traffic police rides without a helmet at Katraj in Pune.
A traffic police rides without a helmet at Katraj in Pune. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

A recent report from the Pune Traffic Department brought to light an alarming figure of 132 deaths due to accidents involving two-wheelers till July 2017 in the city. Citizens and activists have, time and again, questioned the police department of the steps taken to curb such accidents. But, what when they themselves fail to follow the rules that are being enforced on general public?

On this, deputy commissioner of police, traffic, Ashok Morale said, “It is not that all policemen refuse to wear helmets. We have instructed all of them to wear helmets. If they do not wear helmets, proper action will be taken against them. While there is no special provision against policemen who do not wear helmets, they can be given a challan for not wearing one, like normal citizens.”

Meanwhile, the increasing number of people riding two-wheelers in the city of Pune is reflective in the share of two-wheeler riders in the number of people killed in road accidents.  

THE ROAD TO SAFETY
The advantages of wearing a helmet are obvious and the rules making them mandatory are clear. The next step? Follow them
MORE BIKES, MORE VIOLATIONS
ACTION TAKEN BY TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT FROM JANUARY 2017 TO AUGUST 2017
YOUR GUIDE TO FINDING THE RIGHT HELMET
FIND THE RIGHT FIT
While trying on a helmet, make sure it sits squarely on your head. A fitted one won’t go on easy at first, but loosens as you push it down. If your fingers fit between your head and helmet, you need a smaller size
USE A FULL-FACE HELMET
There are full-face helmets, open face helmets and half- head helmets. The half-head ones offer limited protection in the event of a crash
THE FRONT AND BACK
Buy a helmet with a clear visor for better visibility. Ensure it has a solid comfort padding at the back to protect the lower portion of your head
STURDY STRAP
Wearing a helmet may not be useful if it is not secured safely with a strap. Buy one with a sturdy strap and buckle
BRIGHT COLOURS
Choose a bright shade, as these are easy to spot on the road

HOW THE HELMET PROTECTS YOUR HEAD
Acts as a barrier between the skull and the object hitting it
The padding provides a cushioning effect that absorbs the impact of a crash and reduces the severity of the injury
The helmet adds volume to the head, which means the impact is spread over a larger area
The shell protects against sharp objects penetrating the skull
THE RISK
WHO data shows that almost a quarter of the victims of road traffic collisions who require admission to a hospital facility have sustained a traumatic brain injury
The lack or inappropriate use of helmets has been shown to increase the risk of fatalities and injuries resulting from road crashes involving motorised two-wheelers
Bikers without helmets are three times more likely to sustain head injuries in a crash compared to those wearing helmets
WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY
Helmet-wearing rates vary from slightly above zero in some low-income countries to almost 100% in places where laws on helmet use are effectively enforced
LOW INCOME VS HIGH INCOME COUNTRIES
Although helmets have generally been widely worn in most high-income countries, there is evidence of a decline in usage in some countries
Low-income countries have found that more than half of adult motorised two-wheeler riders do not wear properly secured helmets
Child passengers rarely wear helmets, or wear adult helmets that do not adequately protect them
Helmets developed in high-income countries may not be appropriate in countries with hot climates
CHANGE IS GOOD
In Malaysia, the introduction of a helmet law led to a 30% reduction in motorcycle deaths
In Italy, the introduction and implementation of a law on helmet use resulted in helmet use increasing from 20% in 1999, to more than 96% in 2001. There was a corresponding drop in the number of head injuries.
Mandatory helmet laws in the United States of America have shown their implementation and enforcement to reduce the number of injuries sustained by two-wheeler users by 20–30%. helmet suitable for tropical climates has been developed in VietNam, while in Malaysia research is underway to develop helmets specifically suitable for children.
Source: WHO report "World report on road traffic injury prevention" | Graphics: Hitesh Mathur

The citizens of Pune are increasingly depending on two and four wheeler vehicles for their daily commute. Even with the metro project work witnessing the light of the day, the immediate lack of public transport has led to it becoming the city with highest number of two-wheelers in the country.  

However, why is it that the police have been unable to implement the rules related to wearing helmet? The lack of will among people to wear helmets was blamed by the current as well as the former deputy commissioner of police, traffic, as the reason behind maximum number of people riding without helmets.  

“In the year 2002, when I was the DCP of traffic, I had implemented and executed fine collection for three-four days, after a Bombay High Court order. However, I faced resistance from various groups of the society even though maximum number of people had started wearing helmets for those three-four days, in my opinion,” said Ravindra Sengaonkar, additional commissioner of Pune Police, south region.  

While speaking to Hindustan Times in June, Ashok Morale had claimed that it is difficult to fine an entire city for not wearing helmets. In another interview in the month of July, he said, "There needs to be greater awareness about wearing helmets. We have been regularly taking action but the attitude of people needs to change."  

In the first seven months of 2017, car accidents in the city claimed six lives, leaving 14 injured, bus and truck accidents collectively claimed three lives and left eight injured while two-wheeler accidents claimed 132 lives, leaving 261 grievously injured. With an annual city average of 300 road accidents, the people of Pune need to sit up and take note of the reasons behind road accidents.  

In the corresponding period, only 13,830 people were fined for not wearing a helmet as compared to 1,38,289 cases of fine levied for jumping signals.  

In the monsoon session of the Parliament in 2016, union minister Nitin Gadkari had proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act in order to make wearing helmets mandatory for everyone above four years of age.  

He had proposed, under Section 194(d) of the act, that the fine for not wearing helmets be increased from ₹100 to ₹1,000 along with license disqualification for three months, according to the Prime Minister of India’s website. While additional CP Sengaonkar was in favour of implementing the suggestions made by Gadkari, he has experienced first-hand the citizens’ resistance to stringent execution of helmet rules. “A fine of ₹100 is nothing for the educated masses. Therefore, I agree with the suggestion to increase the fine,” he said.