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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Admist political dissent 1,500 Punekars on bikes wearing helmets ride helmet safety message home

Doctors have been crying hoarse about the importance of helmets but the key to the helmet conundrum lies with the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement

pune Updated: Jan 13, 2019 15:01 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
Helmet awareness rally in Pune
Helmet awareness rally in Pune(HT PHOTO)
         

1,500 bikers, 1, 500 helmets, one message – do not ride a bike without a helmet. On Saturday, Zehn X in association with Pune Traffic Police , Premier Group , Rotary Club of Pune Akurdi and Sancheti Hospital organised a helmet rally to create awareness on road safety.

The starting points were Season Mall, Magarpatta, Golibar Maidan, MG Road, Sanas Ground Swargate, DP Road Kothrud, Balewadi, Auto Cluster Chinchwad and converged at Pune Police parade ground Shivajinagar.

Pune Police Commissioner K. Venkatesham, DCP Traffic Tejaswi Satpute , CEO of ZehnX Anuj Gupta , Dr. Parag Sancheti Chairman and Managing Director of Sancheti Hospital , Rotary Club Akurdi President Ganesh Jamgaonkar and other dignitaries were present on the occasion . The ride created awareness about ten different traffic violations ranging from unnecessary honking, drinking and driving , driving triple seat , not wearing helmet , seat belts , jumping signals , honking ,not possessing proper documents and license , PUC , over speeding amongst others.

Dr Sancheti addressed the media with some truths about helmet use. “I have heard this strange excuse for not wearing helmets, that Punekars do not get head injuries! The numbers of course tell the real truth. We see about seven to eight persons with two wheeler injuries daily and about 350 patients at our hospital are victims of bike accidents. There are several other excuses too. Punekars complain of poor vision due to helmets, neck pain and so on. But again the truth is that helmets may impact peripheral vision mildly but when you are driving you are looking ahead. And it is unscientific to say that helmets cause neck pain because they are designed not to. Besides here are lighter helmets available in the city.”

To them Dr Hadgaonkar has a simple reply, “how do professional cricketers play cricket with helmets? To ride without a helmet is to risk your life and every year Pune loses according to statistics 182 people every year because of two wheeler accidents. And about 2% of bike injured people suffer from disability. Surely you don’t want to waste your life like that?”

Doctors have been crying hoarse about the importance of helmets but the key to the helmet conundrum lies with the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement. Ms Tejaswini Satpute DCP (Traffic) said, “there is some confusion about helmet use with Punekars. There was an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act in 2001 that stated that helmets must be worn on highways and not necessary in the city. However the High Court (and later the Supreme Court) directed the State Govt in 2004 to enforce Sec 129 of the Maharashtra Vehicle Act that states that helmets are compulsory for all two wheeler riders including the pillion rider and that the helmet must bear a 4151 ISI mark. So the Pune police are merely enforcing what has been ruled by the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court took cognizance of the numbers, 1.5 lakh people die every eyar on account of two wheeler accidents in India. An orthopedic doctor from Kerela had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court that led to the following guidelines that Satpute spells out. “These are the 4 Es. The first E is Education to all and from all regarding the use of helmets. From school, parents, society everyone. The second E is Engineering. The Supreme Court directed all Govt and Municipal bodies to ensure that black spots (these are the 500 metres on any road that has seen 50 or more accidents in the last three years) to white spots by correcting the fault lines that may be bad roads, lighting etc. The third E is Enforcement. Helmet and seat belt usage must be implemented by the police. And the fourth E is Emergency care that must be given immediately to all accident victims. Punekars have some confusion about this rule. They still believe wrongly, that helmets are compulsory only on highways.”

Despite the public sentiment and political support, the Pune police have been very focused on the third E – enforcement of helmets since December 8, 2018. Says Satpute, “Since our enforcement, we have registered more than 40,000 cases of non helmet use.” The Rs 500 fine seems to be working. According to the DCP there was 25% usage of helmets in Nov 2018 and now it has increased to 65%. With continuous push by the police Satpute is confident that Punekars will come to understand and follow one very important life saving habit – to wear helmets while riding a bike.

224 PMC staff fined for not wearing helmets

Ensuring law is above all, the Pune traffic police department have initiated disciplinary action against the officials of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for violating the mandatory helmet rule in the city.

The traffic police took action against 224 PMC officials till Saturday for not wearing helmets while riding.

Prabhakar Dhamale, assistant commissioner of police (ACP), traffic said, “We received many complaints from citizens through social media and other platforms that officials from the civic body along with those from the police department were found riding without wearing helmets. However, the law stands same for all and hence we have initiated actions against these officials.”

According to Dhamale, the city traffic police department has deployed a team of traffic police outside the PMC’s main building near the entrance of the parking area where civic body officials who are not wearing helmets are caught.

“Non-usage of helmets by the enforcing authorities and officials of other government agencies themselves will certainly set a wrong precedent before the citizens about the mandatory helmet drive,” said Dhamale adding that similar drives would be conducted near the police commissionarate and the district collector office.

DCP (traffic) Tejaswi Satpute had earlier said, “If you are asking others to use helmets and follow traffic rules, you have to do it first too.”

She added that a gazette notification has already been issued to the police personnel.

According to Satpute, action on personnel and traffic branch officials would be taken by her.

“For other branches, I will raise the issue with the concerned department heads by sharing the details and evidence of the violation. The policeman will not only be fined as per the challan, but they may have to pay extra fine or even face stringent action,” she said.

First Published: Jan 13, 2019 14:59 IST