Written by Shivaganga Chaturvedi
OVER four months after Pune City Police started an intensified drive to implement the helmet rule, over 65 per cent riders in Pune have started wearing helmets, said police officials. Traffic personnel said while they continue to enforce the helmet rule by imposing fines, the focus is also on raising awareness and counselling the offenders.
On January 1 this year, Pune City Traffic Police had launched an intensified drive with the largest possible resource allocation and specific goals, after several failed attempts in the past to successfully implement the helmet rule.
For the first two-and-a-half-months, police took action against an average of 5,000 helmet-less riders per day, both on the roads and via e-challans. Traffic branch officials say they are focusing more on educating various groups of citizens and counselling the offenders.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Pankaj Deshmukh, who heads Pune City Police’s traffic control branch, said, “There was resistance in the initial phase but people have matured… more than 65 per cent of the population has started wearing helmets. If we had 100 offenders in one junction earlier, the number has reduced to 20-25. Sustained efforts will continue. Our challenge right now is to make this compliance voluntary and sustainable and we are opting for a multi-faceted approach. We are planning educational awareness programmes and counselling sessions because we want these safety measures to be ingrained in the minds of the people. Our aim is now on quality rather than quantity, and hopefully it will be well-received because the drive has moved on a positive trajectory. “
“Even today, an average of 4,000 persons are being fined for riding without helmets every day, directly and via CCTV system. I would say that the average compliance in most parts of the city was above 75 per cent… it is especially visible in the morning hours. These efforts will continue,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police Jagannath Kalaskar.
A look at the figures of the compliance percentage shows that it ranges from 40 to 80 per cent in various divisions, with areas like Deccan and Shivajinagar maintaining an average of 50 to 60 per cent. However, with an average percentage over 60 in almost all divisions, the drive seems to have accomplished its aim, said police officials.
Elaborating on traffic police’s strategy on counselling sessions, Deshmukh said, “We have already dedicated our headquarters at Shivajinagar to counselling. We counsel 50-70 per cent of the offenders on an every day basis. Our plan is to make the counselling session more comprehensive and educative.”