When will wearing helmets become a norm?https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/when-will-wearing-helmets-become-a-norm/

When will wearing helmets become a norm?

Bike accidents on pune roads : In 4 years,617 accidents,780 dead,1,112 injured,249 in the age-group of 15 to 24 years

In the last four years,780 two-wheeler riders have died and 1,112 injured on the roads of Pune. Of the total dead,249 of them were youngsters in the 15-24 age-group. Most of them were college-goers. Of the 1,112 injured,nearly 300 were college-goers. But all this data does not bring out the distressing lives of the families who have lost their young ones on roads.

Six months ago,21-year-old Karan Rane of Pimpri-Chinchwad died when the two-wheeler he was riding was hit by another vehicle. His death left the family shell-shocked. His father Deepak Rane yet to come to terms with the loss. “What wrong have we done to deserve this fate,” he pleads.

The death of 26-year-old Aatish Pillay just six months after his marriage shocked his parents so much that they left Pune and returned to Kerala. Aatish was an expert in remodelling two-wheelers and used to run a shop in Akurdi. His parents after his death sold the firm and their house in Pradhikaran area.

A resident of PCMC area,Hausabai Landge,55,lost her two sons in two-wheeler accidents. “The eldest son died first,a month latter the younger one died at the same spot. The third son is yet to recover from the shock,” said Hausabai,a widow. Nearly 800 families in Pune city have such heartrending incidents to tell. Data from Pune traffic police show that in the last four years 617 two-wheeler accidents have taken place. The police cite rash driving and lack of road discipline as the reasons. Experts say the only solution is to make wearing a helmet a must on roads.

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“Two-wheeler riders lack awareness about road safety. They drive caring little for traffic discipline. If everyone realises the importance of safe riding,accident rate will fall,” said DCP (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare.

Chandmal Parmar of Rajashree Parmar Memorial Foundation Trust said most of the injured suffer from head injuries and only making helmets mandatory would reduce fatalities. “Because of political intereference,implementation of the helmet norm is not happening in Pune,” he said. Parmar set up the foundation after his daughter died in a road accident on 1989.

Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi agreed that implementing the helmet norm is the only solution. “When Satypal Singh was the police commissioner,he had made the helmet norm compulsory. It should be enforced strictly throughout Pune,” he said. Pardeshi cited the example of Kerala where strict enforcement of this rule has brought down death rate .

DCP Pandhare said under the Motor Vehicles Act,helmets are a must for two-wheeler riders. But said the force is facing staff crunch. “There are around 25 lakh two-wheelers in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. It becomes difficult to monitor each of them as out of 10 two-wheeler riders spotted at a traffic signal,only four are found wearing helmets,” he said.

The Save Pune Traffic Movement have urged educational institutions to make use of helmets a must for students on campus. “The aversion to use helmets is the reason for deaths in bike accidents,” said civic activist Harshad Abhyankar.

“Neck pain,hair loss,limiting vision and interference with hearing,helmets are strongly opposed by many. They also claim that helmets do not guarantee 100 per cent safety and are uncomfortable to use during summer,” said Ninad Patil of SPTM.

(With Ajay Khape)