Friday, February 12, 2016

Helmet Rule- to wear or not to wear...


Pune is one of the fastest growing cities in India, being 8th largest in the country in terms of population and GDP. In the recently declared list of first batch of 20 Indian cities to be made ‘Smart’, Pune holds second rank. ‘Making Pune Lovable and Livable!’ is the mission statement of Pune’s proposed Smart City Action Plan. One of the four most important targets listed in that plan is to achieve better traffic system in the city.    With the rising urbanisation, Pune has witnessed tremendous rise in the number of vehicles on road. Historically known as ‘cycle city of India’, Pune now has become the city of two-wheelers. We are well aware of the fact that Pune holds the top position in number of motorized two-wheelers in India. However, according to the report of Pune Traffic Police, in 2010-11, around 50 percent of the traffic accident related fatalities were two-wheeler riders.  The people of Pune have always been very indifferent and dejected when it comes to following the traffic rules and road safety instructions. 
Growth of vehicles in Pune (Source: Embarq India's case study)

According to The Motor Vehicles Act 1998, any person driving or riding a two-wheeler motorized vehicle shall in public places wear a protective headgear. Diwakar Raote, The cabinet minister of Transport, Maharashtra, in his latest decision has made the usage of helmet mandatory for the bike riders and drivers across the state. The Supreme Court also has made usage of helmet compulsory in its verdict.
The traffic control branch of Pune city police on February 4 has launched a massive drive against those riding two-wheelers without wearing helmets. This drive has been announced a day after Minister Raote’s decision. According to the records give by the police, on the first day of the drive itself, 4717 people were fined for not wearing helmets. This action was carried out in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. The police department has also made use of helmet mandatory for all the policemen while riding bikes.
Pune Traffic Police enforcing the helmet rule (Pic Courtsey: Indian Express)
On the surface, this might look like a merry scene and one might think that the traffic and accidents scenario will improve in the city. But from the day of enforcement on the roads, people are not enthusiastic about this imposition. Many were seen arguing with the police on the roads. Surprisingly, almost all the political leaders from all the parties in Pune are standing together against the helmet compulsion. They are of the opinion that sudden enforcement can create chaos amongst the citizens and awareness campaigns are must for making traffic scenario better.
“I think this helmet rule is brought in to benefit the helmet manufacturer and nothing else. People will not bother the rule. It will stay for a few days and like every time, even police will forget that there is such a rule,” a young rider who is a courier service employee said. Whereas Bhagyashree Deshpande, an IT professional said, “Helmet rule is very much essential. Though people know that helmet use reduces injury risk, they won’t use it until such compulsion is imposed. Now-a-days, we are not allowed to enter our company premises without helmets, then what’s harm in wearing it on roads as well?”
Here are some tweets by citizens regarding Helmet compulsion-





All in all, this new rule is churning the road traffic situation. It’s upon the police and the people both to make it a successful drive. Ultimately the increased use of helmets by people is going to lead to a lesser number of road accidents, injuries and fatalities.  

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