None of the 175 bikers who died between January-September this year on the “dangerous” roads of Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad wore a helmet. Had they been wearing helmets, Pune police believe most of them — about 100 or more — would have survived.
Similarly, abnormal-sized and unmarked speed-breakers, potholes and craters and vehicles plying in no-entry zones and rash riding are being cited as the major culprits for such large number of deaths of two-wheeler riders.
And the violations of traffic rules or lack of maintenance of roads and speed-breakers have continued for years in Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad or in three cantonment boards of Pune, Khadki and Dehu Road.
Twenty-year-old Pravinkar Sahadevan, whom his family and friends described as an amazingly talented student of engineering, was one such victim of traffic rule violation by a car in 2009.
Pravinkar was heading home from Pimpri when a car, which took a sudden right turn, rammed Pravinkar’s two-wheeler at Phugewadi. An injured Pravinkar was rushed to a nearby hospital. He died a couple of years later and with him, Sahadevan’s family’s dreams lay in ruins. The family stays in Bopodi.
Pravinkar was wearing a helmet which he was habituated to, his family said. “My son died because the car driver, instead of going up to the signal at Phugewadi and taking a U-turn, broke the traffic rule and tried to cross over to the other side from the open space in front of the mall at Phugewadi,” said Sahadevan, a retired principal of S V S High School, Khadki.
Sahadevan said that while helmet was a must, at the same time, it was important that road conditions were drastically improved by civic authorities and traffic norms implemented. “Even after my son’s death, it took months for the PCMC to breach the gap and stop blatant traffic violations at Phugewadi. Apparently, a number of accidents have taken place at this spot,” he said.
Sahadevan said his son was not at all at fault. “He always followed all traffic rules. He never indulged in overspeeding and always used to say that he was a safe rider.” Urging Pune Police to act tough against traffic violators which will help save several lives, he said, “I strongly feel that my son would have survived if the car driver had followed the traffic norm and not entered into the wrong zone,” he said.
Pravinkar’s mother, Indumati Sahadevan, said, “Our son was highly talented in studies. He was doing his BE in Information Technology. He was so good in programming that he could solve three hours paper in flat one hour…”
Indumati said her son was fond of helmets. “I don’t remember a day when he went even for short rides without a helmet… we have still preserved his helmet,” he said. Even after eight years of Pravinkar’s death, the Sahadevan family is fighting for compensation. “The lower court awarded Rs 4.5 lakh compensation. We have sought Rs 20 lakh and have approached the Bombay High Court. The case is still pending,” he said.