Over the last one week, teams from Pune Newsline visited two colleges in the city — Fergusson College and the Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC) — to find out the students’ views on wearing helmets. At both the colleges, a majority of the students admitted to not wearing helmets.
However, most students at the College of Engineering in Pune (COEP) said they were in favour of wearing one. Many of them were seen riding around the campus wearing a helmet; however, pillion riders were still without them.
Sayali Salunke, a final year student of Computer Science, said she doesn’t go anywhere without her helmet. “My father won’t let me ride if I don’t wear a helmet… I also think it is safe,” she said.
Sneha B, a student of Engineering in Production and Industrial Management, had different views. “I used to wear a helmet. But now I don’t. It is uncomfortable and heavy. It also causes trouble when there is too much air and dust. The dust particles on the visor block the vision,” she said.
Tanmay Khare, a final year student of Mechanical Engineering from COEP, said, “I wear my helmet everyday because I feel safer. An additional benefit of the helmet is that it is less stressful to the eyes. The visor keeps the smoke and pollution away from the face.”
His classmate, Atharv Naik, also wears one on a daily basis but avoids it on shorter rides. He added that most residents don’t abide by traffic rules, as cops hardly catch the defaulters.
Salil Tawde said, “The traffic in Pune is horrible and nobody follows the rules. Traffic police… hardly catch violators. So, it is important that people understand the importance of wearing helmets and abide by the rules.”
Mrudul Dighe, a student of Electronics and Telecommunication, said it was important to wear a helmet but it could be avoided on shorter rides. An incident, he said, has made him more cautious. “A friend of mine had an accident, and sustained severe injuries as he was not wearing a helmet,” Dhige said.
Ramesh Kadam, a student of M Tech in Computer Engineering, has been consistent in following all the traffic rules. He said he was particular about always wearing a helmet, as “nobody in Pune drives safely”.
Rohit Kulkarni, who works in the media department of the COEP, said helmets should be worn by everyone but people should choose wisely. “A helmet should fit you and be comfortable. However, it is difficult for girls to find a helmet specifically designed for them. Most of the shops provide unisex models, which are not always feasible.”
Dashmeet Ajmani, a third-year student of Computer Engineering, said she had had some bad experiences with the first helmet she had bought. But she was careful while purchasing the second one. “My first helmet was very uncomfortable. It didn’t fit. I couldn’t even sneeze, or wear my spectacles. My current helmet is an open design. I think it’s a unisex model…” she said.
Most of the students said they wear a helmet as their parents have forbidden them to ride without one. Yuvraj Chavan, who is pursuing M Tech from COEP, said, “I don’t go out without a helmet, as my family insists that I wear it.”
Bhagvayshri Bhirud, meanwhile, said she rides without a helmet but thinks it is important to wear one. A third-year M Tech student, Bhirud lives near the college campus. “I don’t travel much. I hardly cover 3-4 kms on my scooty. So, I don’t need a helmet. Another issue is that helmets are too heavy to be carried around. Most of the two-wheelers have space to store helmets, but my scooty has no such slot. However, I think traffic in Pune is not safe, so everyone should mandatorily wear helmets unless they have a genuine issue,” she added
Satyajeet, a first-year student of Metallurgy Department, said, “I drive both a two-wheeler and a four-wheeler. I notice how rash some two-wheeler riders are. So, I wear a helmet because it is the only way one can ensure safety.”