Deaths due to accidents involving two-wheelers reduced in 2016 after the Mumbai Traffic Police intensified its drive to enforce wearing of helmets and substantially increased the penalty. Data provided by the police shows that until November last year, 111 people were killed in two-wheeler accidents — 104 people by bikes and seven by scooters.
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A total of 107 fatal road accidents were recorded in the city last year. In addition, 721 people were seriously injured in 590 accidents during the year.
In comparison, in 2015, 178 people were killed in 171 accidents involving two-wheelers. Traffic police officials project that the number for December 2016 would be less than in the corresponding month the previous year.
Traffic police officials attribute this to the fine for driving without a helmet being raised from Rs 100 to Rs 500 early last year.
“There have been instances where motorists would throw Rs 100 notes in the faces of my constables when caught. They do not do so now. A fine of Rs 500 is quite a lot,” said Namrata Lokhande, senior inspector, Colaba traffic division.
Last year, the traffic police also conducted an aggressive drive to enforce wearing of helmets after raising the fines. “These days we find only at least 3 or 4 people on a day driving without helmets,” said Lokhande.
“I think motorists have been spending that money to buy a basic helmet,” he added.
Tukaram Thorat, senior inspector, Trombay traffic division said that the fear of the increased fine, accompanied by an awareness campaign is to be credited for the sharp dip in fatal accidents involving two-wheelers.
“We went to schools and colleges to appeal to motorists to wear helmets. I think that has helped bring down the number of accidents and fatalities,” he said.
The introduction last year of the CCTV camera system and the e-challan system has also helped reduce casualties, the police said. “Motorists now know that even if they aren’t caught by field police personnel, the cameras will spot a violation and a challan will be automatically issued. People prefer wearing helmets now,” said Lokhande.