Carrying helmets can cut back accidents

CHENNAI: In June 2015, “disheartened” by the number of people losing their lives for not wearing helmets while riding two-wheelers, the Madras high court had made wearing of helmets by two-wheeler riders in compulsory.
Almost three years after the judgement, in which Justice had said, “Whether a person’s dharma saves a person’s life or not, in modern times a will definitely save lives”, two-wheeler riders in Chennai are on the verge of having a free run again.

Last year, the Chennai traffic police booked 3.41 lakh cases for riding two-wheelers without helmets. In the first two months this year, the numbers have already crossed 55,000, double the violations during the corresponding period last year. While the sharp rise in the cases could be due to better policing and more violations, the numbers do indicate that Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which makes wearing of helmet mandatory for two-wheeler riders, is being violated at will.

A senior police officer said almost 70% of those killed in road accidents were two-wheeler riders without helmets, and 90% of them died of head injuries.

“A helmet certainly brings down fatality in case of accidents involving two-wheeler riders,” said A Arun, additional commissioner of Chennai city traffic police. “But riders should buckle their helmets to be safe,” he added.

To find why two-wheeler riders in Chennai meet with accidents almost every day, police have engaged last month an NGO to conduct a detailed study. “The NGO will find out the root cause of the accidents involving two-wheeler riders to reduce deaths on the city roads,” said city traffic joint commissioner of police R Sudhakar.

In the absence of a helmet, when the head of a biker lands on the road, a blow causes the brain to slam against the skull. This can bruise or tear blood vessels, or cause nerve damage leading to death.

“Throughout my career, I have seen most victims of road accidents dying of grievous head injuries,” said , professor and head of the department of forensic medicines at . “If anyone tells us to wear a helmet, we tend to take it lightly. But that small thing can save a life,” he said.

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