In the first four months of this year, as many as 72 two-wheeler riders have died and 112 were seriously injured on roads falling in the jurisdictions of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations as well as the two cantonment boards of Khadki and Pune.
This year’s figure, as well as of last five years (1,000 dead), is a chilling reminder of how roads in Pune continue to remain unsafe for two-wheelers even as civic and traffic officials take their own time to put in place what experts say “calming measures” to curb overspeeding that could reduce the road fatalities.
Of the 72 dead in past four months, 52 fell in the young age group of 18 to 40 years. Among the 112 seriously injured, 66 are the age group of 18 to 40 years. The dead and injured include the rider as well as the pillion rider, say the traffic police.
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Every month, on an average, 17 deaths are reported. This year in January, the figure of 22 fatalities was the highest. What is shocking, say traffic experts, is the fact that none of those who died in the past four months wore a helmet despite the claims from the traffic police that they were “strictly” implementing the mandatory helmet norm.
The traffic police say overspeeding is main cause for the high and regular fatalities of two-wheeler riders. The fatalities, say traffic experts, show that every alternate day in Pune city, a two-wheeler rider either loses his life or is seriously injured.
These deaths, points out Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First, are highly avoidable if the rider controls his urge to overspeed or the civic and traffic implement effective measures that could slow down a speeding vehicle.
“Today’s youngsters want to show off their driving skills by moving at breakneck speed. The availability of 200 and 300 cc vehicles has only given them a further high. For long, we have been urging civic and traffic police officials to stop these avoidable deaths by implementing traffic calming measures like setting up proper speed-breakers,” he says. Expressing his shock at the staggering count of youngsters dying on Pune’s roads, District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat said it was the responsibility of both civic and traffic officials to find ways to save lives of Pune’s youngsters. “Traffic police should see it to that they implement such measures which would prevent two-wheeler riders from overspeeding or riding in a rash manner. Similarly, civic officials should coordinate with the traffic police to implement proper traffic engineering steps.”
Bapat said that by the next week, he would convene a meeting of top civic and traffic officials as well as traffic experts to discuss ways to reduce two-wheeler fatalities. “This issue has been gnawing Pune’s public for long. It is time we take effective measures,” he said.
One of the nightmares of a two-wheeler accident has visited the Waghere family of Pimpri-Chinchwad. Twenty-one-year-old Amit Waghere, who was riding pillion on a two-wheeler, fell on his head after a mishap in Pimpri last May. He has still not recovered from his injuries and undergoing treatment in the hospital. His uncle, Pimpri-Chinchwad Deputy Mayor Prabhakar Waghere, agrees that there was a need for a mass awareness to save young lives. “The deaths and injuries to two-wheeler riders are happening with unfailing regularity it in Pune. Our family is one of those who have suffered the worst. On my own, I have also taken up the issue of safer two-wheeler rides with the civic administration. We are working on it,” he said.