As many as 195 two-wheeler riders have lost their lives on the roads of Pune between January and November this year. None of them were wearing helmets at the time of the fatal accidents. This highlights the fact that most two-wheeler riders in the city continue to ignore their safety, despite the threat to their life and limbs, by refusing to wear the protective headgear.
Last month, Pune Newsline had reported that 175 two-wheeler riders had died in accidents in the first nine months of this year. Since then, 20 more deaths have been reported.
According to figures obtained from Pune Traffic Police, 374 two-wheeler riders sustained serious injuries and 205 sustained minor injuries. Some riders have even gone into a coma after sustaining serious head injuries, said police sources.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) Ashok Morale reiterated that two-wheeler riders in the city continue to ignore their own safety by not wearing helmets. “Had they worn helmets, many of the 195 riders could have survived. But in Pune, riders continue to ignore their safety,” he said.
However, civic activists D G Baliga and Shridhar Chalkha said Pune Police, who are in charge of implementing the helmet rule, are passing the buck to two-wheeler riders. “Why are people being allowed to flout the norm brazenly? When a law is in place to wear helmets, how can Pune Police allow the law to be violated,” they asked.
The activists cited Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which makes it compulsory for two-wheeler riders and the pillion rider to wear a helmet. “In 2005, the Bombay High Court had made it mandatory for bikers and pillion riders to wear ISI-grade helmets.
In 2010, the Supreme Court had made it mandatory for manufacturers of two-wheelers to sell helmets along with the vehicles,” they said.
However, DCP (traffic) Ashok Morale said Pune Police were imposing fines on nearly 100 two-wheeler riders every day, on an average, for violating the helmet rule. “Along with implementing the law, we are also trying to create awareness among riders. We would also be reaching out to college students,” he said.
Gauri Sarvate, an activist and film-maker who lost her brother in a two-wheeler mishap a few years ago, said police should act comprehensively and not take piecemeal action. “No one in this city should ride on a two-wheeler without helmets. Police should not allow bikers to trample the law… Forget about two-wheeler riders, we have not even seen police take action against pillion riders, which is also mandatory under the Act,” said Sarvate.
Following reports in Pune Newsline last month, Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla had promised to launch a mission to ‘save the lives of two-wheeler riders’. Earlier this month, as part of the mission, Pune Police had launched an awareness drive by putting up digital boards at several points in the city, emphasising on the need to wear helmets. Shukla said police were also going to take a slew of other steps as part of the mission.