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Pune’s road safety activist Ranjit Gadgil urges strict enforcement of helmet rule

City-based NGO, Parisar, in May this year, conducted a survey according to which only 16 out of every 100 bikers in Pune wear a helmet

pune Updated: Sep 16, 2017 23:38 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
helmet,pune,road safety
Traffic expert Ranjit Gadgil is a programme director at Parisar.(Ravindra Joshi/HT Photo)

City-based NGO, Parisar, a civil society organisation working on lobbying and advocacy for sustainable development, in May this year, conducted a survey according to which only 16 out of every 100 bikers in Pune wear a helmet. Ranjit Gadgil, programme director at Parisar, talks to Jui Dharwadkar about the need for strict enforcement of the helmet rule in the city:

What should be done to enforce the helmet rule? What is lacking?

Enforcing the helmet rule is actually quite simple since, anyone violating the rule can be easily identified (unlike drunk and drive or speeding cases, which require special equipments). The key to effective enforcement is the message to public that the rule will be strictly implemented and to carry out the enforcement visibly, continuously and consistently. Targets must be set for compliance with the rule (% of riders and pillions wearing helmet) rather than tickets (challans issued). Visible enforcement of the rule on the road rather than through CC TV cameras will always be more effective. The resistance from a small but vocal group of those who oppose the rule needs to be countered. Last, but perhaps most important, there has to be political backing to the police to enforce the law.

Will the new Motor Vehicle Act help in enforcing helmet rule?

The mandatory helmet law (for both rider and pillion rider) has been on the law books since 1988. The proposed amendment partially exempts children below the age of four (for whom the government will issue separate safety measures), but deciding which children are of age four or more may pose some problem for the police. On the other hand, the fine for not wearing a helmet has been proposed to be increased from ₹100 (currently) to ₹1,000 with a mandatory three-month licence suspension. This will definitely prove to be an effective deterrent if the police enforce it.

Can only awareness help in making people wear helmets?

Worldwide, it has been found that only awareness campaigns do not increase compliance rates. This has been found even when the campaigns are well designed and have high visibility. Sporadic and poorly designed campaigns have no effect at all. Also, this being an old rule, people are quite aware that wearing a helmet is mandatory, but simply choose not to do so. Any awareness campaign must therefore be in support of an enforcement campaign rather than telling people to wear a helmet.

What kind of awareness related to helmets is necessary?

Awareness about helmet quality (must have a BIS approved ISI mark) and the fact that it must be strapped-in to provide adequate protection is perhaps required. Many people buy spurious, low quality helmets and do not use the chin strap, which experts say, is almost as good as not wearing a helmet. An awareness campaign targeting elected representatives about how enforcement can help save lives and prevent serious head injuries is also required so that they will back the police during enforcement campaigns.

First Published: Sep 15, 2017 20:09 IST