129 two-wheeler riders dead in 8 months z Only one was wearing helmet z 21-year-old in coma since May
ON May 7, Amit Waghere (21), a resident of Pimprigaon fell from a two-wheeler after it hit a speed-breaker on Pimple Saudagar-Pimprigaon Road. Amit suffered head injuries and was admitted to a private hospital. The next day, he slipped into a coma and he is still in hospital.
Amit’s family spent Rs 35 lakh on treatment. “Amit opens his eyes, can’t speak a word and sometimes responds by moving his head. But he can’t do anything on his own. He can’t even get up from bed,” says Prabhakar Waghere, his uncle. Amit is likely to be discharged in a couple of days. “The doctors have told us that it takes time for a patient of head injury to recover,” says Waghere, adding they are all hopeful Amit would return to his best.
While Amit survived the accident, 129 families lost a key member each. In the eight months since January 1 to August 31, 129 people riding two-wheelers have lost their lives. According to traffic police, the deaths occurred on roads in Pune city, Pimpri-Chinchwad and cantonment areas.
Every year, 225 to 240 two-wheeler riders die on Pune’s roads. Of the 129 who lost their lives, only one had helmet on. He has been identified as Balaji Randive (26) of Jadhavwadi Chikhli. Randive died after his two-wheeler was hit by a truck in Nigdi area. His death occurred as he was run over by a heavy vehicle, the police said.
Of the 129 deaths, 90 two-wheeler riders are in the age group of 18-45. In the 18-20 age group, 8 two-wheeler riders have died. In the 21-24 age group, 16 died. In the 25-34 age-group, 43 two-wheelers riders have died and in the 35-45 age-group, 23 died.
The figure of 129 deaths, police say, is misleading. The deaths could be much more as 182 two-wheeler riders were seriously injured in accidents since January this year. Also, 225 two-wheeler riders suffered minor injuries. The traffic police department does not have information regarding those seriously injured. “If they were seriously injured, and suffered head injuries, chances of recovery is less. Some of them must have died, but we do not have complete information and cannot hazard a guess,” say traffic cops. PMPML buses, the city’s transport service which have earned the tag of a killer service, caused the death of 10 two-wheeler riders and seriously injured 10. PMPML joint managing director Pravin Ashtikar said they were strictly monitoring drivers on roads and traffic discipline among two-wheeler riders will reduce accidents. Among 129 dead are five below 18 years of age. An NCP leader, Shalaka Girme (31), a resident of Satavwadi in Hadapsar, is among victims. She fell on the road and suffered head injuries after her vehicle hit road divider last month.
Three youths on motorcycle were killed when a private bus ran over them on Telco Road in Pimpri. The deceased Vikram Hanumant Gadadare (22), Yogesh Dinkar Bhosale (25) and Rohan Balasaheb Kamble (24) were from Transportnagari in Nigdi. A 35-year-old woman died on university road after her two-wheeler got stuck on a bad patch on the road.
Last week, Dinesh Genjage (25) died when he was returning home around 10.30 pm when his vehicle skidded on the road linking Pimple-Gurav with Kasarwadi. He suffered head injuries, eye-witnesses said. Dinesh had married last year.
In all 129 deaths, youths aged 18 to 35 figure prominently — 67 in all — and experts and traffic police attribute it to rash and negligent riding, besides disregard for safety through non-use of helmets. “Besides rash and negligent riding, I think non-use of helmets is the accentuating factor for such high incidents of two-wheeler fatalities,” says Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) Sarang Awad. To add to this, Awad says there is a tendency among two-wheeler riders, especially youths, to show contempt for traffic discipline. “While in top gear, they don’t care for signals or try to zig zag their way through the maze of traffic, resulting in deadly accidents,” he says.
Prashant Inamdar, convener of Pedestrians First, says rash and negligent driving is not the overriding factor. “On the roads where potholes, craters, ill-designed speed-breakers, broken medians reign, you cannot expect two-wheeler riders to keep their life and limb intact,” he says. Inamdar says there is a mad scramble among heavy vehicles for space which makes two-wheeler riders highly vulnerable. “Amidst this traffic madness, two-wheeler riders are the worst-suffers. They fall and either die after hitting the roads or are run over,” he says.
As for helmets, Inamdar says,”A blanket compulsion should be avoided. Instead, compulsion should start at college level which will make youngsters habitual to wearing helmets.” However, DCP Awad says, “There is no need to issue an order for making helmets compulsory. Helmets are compulsory under the Motor Vehicles Act and we are fining helmet-less riders. But there is need to educate road users and we are doing that,” he said.
Both Awad and Inamdar agree that civic bodies and traffic cops should coordinate to reduce fatalities. Traffic enforcement and state of roads need to be looked at closely, they say. Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Jadhav said there was need to check speed limit and PCMC would take the initiative to introduce speed-limit in its jurisdiction.