Safety takes a back seat: Only 1% pillion riders wear helmets in Mumbai

The traffic police said 404 fatal accidents involving two-wheelers were reported in Mumbai between 2015 and 2017, and most victims were pillion riders.

mumbai Updated: Aug 01, 2018 15:05 IST
Megha Sood
Megha Sood
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,wearing helmets,pillion riders
A family on a bike at CSMT with only the driver wearing a helmet.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

Only 20,000 or 1% of the total 20 lakh pillion riders in Mumbai wear helmets, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University and IIT-Bombay under the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety.

The traffic police have attributed the dismal figure to staff crunch and lack of awareness among people.

After a Bombay high court order in 2016, the transport department made it mandatory for not only bikers but also pillion riders to wear helmets under section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. But the traffic police have started penalising pillion riders because of staff crunch.

According to the traffic police, as many as 404 fatal accidents (which result in death/s) involving two-wheelers were reported in Mumbai between 2015 and 2017. Most of the victims in these accidents were pillion riders.

On the other hand, the number of bikers who wear helmets in Mumbai has increased by more than twice, stated the John Hopkins study. In 2017, 92% of the total Mumbai bikers put on helmets compared to 45% in 2015. Of the total bikers wearing helmets, 46% did not buckle them properly.

Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of police traffic, said implementing the helmet law for pillions riders is tough, but plans are being made to educate them.

On the increase in the number of helmet-wearing bikers, Kumar said, “The rigorous drives and e-challans have borne fruits. Our focus is on two-wheeler riders as they are 26 times more prone to die in a crash than car drivers.”

Kumar said among the 6,000 e-challans issued daily for traffic violations, more than 600 are for helmetless bikers and riders.

Officials conducting the drive said most riders blame extreme humidity for not wearing a helmet. Moreover, most of them are ignorant of the law.

“Wearing a good helmet and tying it properly can reduce chance of death by 90% during accidents,” said a traffic police officer.

Traffic experts, however, observed that the police should find more innovative ways to educate pillion riders.

“The drive should be taken to colleges as many students have two-wheelers. The traffic can also implement the law for pillion riders after informing people about it,” said Ashutosh Atre, traffic expert.

Atre also said buckling helmet is equally important. “Helmet should be strapped properly. It should not be loose or tilted.”

“There are no helmets for children. People should be informed places from where they can buy such helmets,” said another traffic expert.

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 12:09 IST