Say Yes to Helmets, Delhi: Capital’s riders flout rules, risk lives head on
Till October 15 this year, over 3.25 lakh riders were prosecuted for riding without helmets in Delhi. In our three-part series, #SayYesToHelmets , we look at how helmets can prevent road accidents and keep you safe.Updated: Nov 01, 2016, 16:30 IST
The number of two-wheelers on Delhi roads increases every day and with it the number of riders without helmets also goes up. This year, till October 15 over 3.25 lakh riders were prosecuted for riding without helmets. In 2015, the prosecution figure stood at over 4 lakh.
Delhi Traffic Police officials say that though the Motor Vehicles Act (1988) makes it mandatory for bikers to wear helmets certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), most riders in the Capital do not comply with the rule. They said that while many riders carry helmets out of fear of law, they choose wear it only when they spot a cop ticketing violators.
Traffic constable Satpal Singh said that bikers, especially youngsters, dodge traffic police personnel or change route when they see others being fined. “Several times we have to chase the bikers and fine them. I have caught so many bikers who are fined for carrying the helmets and not wearing them. I tell these young men that helmets are to be worn and merely carrying it will not save them from an accident,” 52-year-old Singh said.
Officials say that riders are seen wearing anything from hard hats that are worn at construction sites to low cost variants that break easily.
Delhi Police commissioner Alok Verma said that riding without proper helmets is the most violated traffic rule and is a major safety concern on the roads of the Capital.
“You can see that almost every second or third motorcycle or scooter rider on the road is not wearing a helmet or is wearing a makeshift helmet. Our message to these riders is that wear helmets not because of the fear of law but for your own safety. A proper helmet can protect you from a fatal crash,” Verma said.
In an analysis of road accidents in 2015 the Delhi Traffic Police found that two-wheeler riders were the second most mortality prone group on the capital’s roads after pedestrians and cyclists. It was found that in most accidents not wearing helmets resulted in instant death of the rider and the pillion-rider.
Studies by Bangalore-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) showed that nearly 60-70% two-wheeler riders who were injured or killed in road mishaps had head or neck injuries that led to disability or death.
Experts say that creating awareness about the disadvantages of not wearing helmets and controlling the sale of low-quality helmets could be of help. Dr Arumukham Iyer, senior scientists and researcher in technology driven road safety at IIT (Kharagpur), said that promoting colourful and jazzy helmets could also attract youngsters to use them.
“There have been several successful initiatives to promote helmets not just in foreign countries but also in other cities in India. For example, in cities like Ranchi and Kerala, a massive drive was carried out where two-wheeler riders not wearing helmets were given away free helmets by the traffic units,” Dr Iyer said.
He said such initiatives help in psychologically shaming violators into wearing the helmets.
Police personnel, however, say that it is difficult to implement the rule among Delhi riders who are often aggressive and truculent. Last year, two traffic officials were beaten up by a group of bikers for being stopped at Mathura Road.
‘Helmets are not cool’: Choosing risk over reason
This 16-year-old resident of Sangam Vihar started motorcycle racing when he was just 13. Since then he has met over a dozen accidents.
“No one in the group wears helmets. It is not cool. Plus, the weather in Delhi is so hot and wearing the helmet is uncomfortable,” says the Class 10 student as he cleans his bike.
He says that in his biking group, there is no rule that prohibits riders from wearing helmets. Though it is a matter of choice, most boys avoid helmets to impress the older bikers.
“None of my brothers in the group wear helmets and they also go for trips outside the city. Everyone has to die one day,” he said.
He recalls an accident where his bike went skidding on the road and he received five stitches on his forehead. “It was in December, around two years back. I was returning home and the visibility was low. The bike skid and my head hit the divider,” he said.
Saved from a fatal accident by helmet
Prashant Sinha, a 24-year-old student, was returning home from a party when his motorcycle was hit by a speeding car under the Sarojini Nagar flyover.
The impact threw him from his bike. He does not remember what happened next. The only thing he does remember is that he was wearing a helmet and that saved him from major injuries.
“My father never allowed me to take my bike without my helmet. Though I never really thought about its importance before, I did that day,” Sinha said.
His bike was in pieces and Sinha was admitted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for two weeks. His shoulder was fractured and he also had injuries on his legs and arms. But his head was saved.
“When I reached the hospital my head was stuck inside the helmet. And the helmet had to be cut. The doctors said if I did not have the helmet on, there was no chance of survival,” he said.
Join the conversation with #SayYesToHelmets. If you have a story about how your helmet saved you from injury, tweet to us at @htTweets.