OF the 175 two-wheeler riders who have died since January this year in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, none had worn a helmet. The city sees such unfortunate statistics every year, as many young Pune residents continue to avoid wearing helmets and in the process, lose their lives when they sustain a serious head injury in a two-wheeler mishap.
Aditya Prakash Karekar, 29, who died in a two-wheeler mishap in February 2013, was one of them.
Aditya’s sister Gauri Sarwate, a resident of Prabhat Road, believes her brother would have been alive had he worn a helmet that night. “Aditya was a law-abiding citizen and he always used to wear a helmet. That night, he was carrying his helmet with him. When he left home, he was wearing it. He probably went to an ATM to withdraw cash and then locked his helmet to the back of his motorcycle,” said Sarwate, a film director and actor.
The accident took place in Khadki area, on a stretch of the Pune-Mumbai highway, when a tempo coming from the wrong side collided with Karekar’s two-wheeler. “The impact of the tempo was severe, but I still believe a helmet could have saved him… Aditya was not speeding.. .I am sure he was in control of his vehicle like he always used to be,” said Sarwate, adding, “Aditya was a safe rider and a safe motorist. We would all feel safe when we sat on his bike. He never indulged in overspeeding or rash rides.”
Sarwate said she has still not been able to figure out why her brother was not wearing his helmet, even though he had carried it with him. “Why did he not put on his helmet after visiting the ATM ? Did he lock it to his bike when he went to the ATM ? Did he not wear it again as it was a short ride home ? Why… Why did he not put his helmet on again,” she asked.
“Even today, when I see young boys riding without helmets, my heart sinks. I run like a crazy woman and tell them to wear a helmet… they don’t know how much their family will miss them if something happens to them…,” she said.
Sarwate also says that the attitude of the tempo driver, who was on the wrong side of the road, reflected the mentality of Pune residents and the “lax attitude” of traffic personnel. “If the traffic police act tough, it will make motorists think twice before violating traffic rules, even late in the night,” she said.
Sarwate appealed to Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla to direct the traffic police to act tough and impose stringent fines on violators. “There should be a massive drive, and posters and banners should be put up across the city, about the danger of violating traffic rules and not wearing a helmet. After that, no violator should be spared. The fine for violating traffic rules should be increased manifold,” she said.
Karekar was a computer professional and a sound engineer, who had done the final sound mixing for her film, said Sarwate. “In his last call to our dad, he said ‘I will be home in half-an-hour’. We all wait, till today, for that half-an-hour to come an end.”