Monday, January 17, 2011

Road Safety - How much do you follow ? - the helmet rule in Chennai

See this photo and start guessing the reason for the traffic jam.  This is an article circulated tomy friends on 1st June 2007. . 

Before you read that, here is some of my thoughts :  

Chennai bustles with traffic – two wheelers, three wheelers / auto rickshaws / fish carts, cars, buses, trucks, tankers, bullock carts and some others vie with each other for the space on road. There is maddening traffic everywhere.  Once in a while we do see accidents and a few good Samaritans rendering help to the hapless victims.  Yet in a few minutes the crowd moves on as if nothing has happened and continue to show scant regard for road safety or road rules.  You regularly see vehicles jumping signals and people driving rashly. It is almost everyone doing the same irrespective of whether they are educated or not, driving high end  vehicle or not.  As you hit the road everyday in whatever means of transport, you spot thousands of two wheeler riders and most of them do not wear helmets, though the Govt. made it mandatory long ago.  Even the few who carry helmets, do not have them on their heads but dangle it on the rear view mirror – one single act – making useless two objects. Then there are the other few with plastic covers and those who do not strap their helmets at all.
Is Law Enforcement only to be blamed ??  Whom are every one fooling around ??  The Govt. on their part issued a G.O implementing the helmet rule and issued recommendation ‘not to harass public in the name of enforcing law’.   The Govt. of Tamilnadu by  its order promulgated that wearing of helmets by both drivers and pillion riders has been made compulsory effective 1/6/2007 in  Chennai city and 5 municipal corporations (Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Salem, Tirunelveli) and from 1/7/2007 in rest of the places in the State of Tamilnadu.  There is also penal provision u/s 177 of MV Act for the violation.

Helmet is a form of protective gear to be worn on head to protect the head injuries.  From time immemorial, soldiers had used helmets made of  leather, bronze and others  to protect from swords, arrows and other sharp arms.  It is in use in many sports including racing, football, ice hockey, climbing and of course – Cricket.  In olden days, batsmen were not using helmets.

Many have had grievous hurts by bouncers hurled at great speed.  Sandip Patil during the tour to Australia in 1980-81 had his ear torn by a Lenny Pascoe bouncer.  Mohinder lost some teeth in Caribbean land. Krish Srikkanth had his arm fractured by a Bishop’s vicious raiser.  The Bishan Bedi’s team after that famous Port of Spain victory in 1976 when they chased 406 were brutally laid to submission by a barrage of bouncers hurtling the body at Sabina park, Jamaica in 1976 when Roberts, Holding and Wayne Daniel pitched everything short and more than half of the side had to be rushed to hospital nursing injuries.  Madan Lal was once ridiculed for backing and termed Madam lal.  Viv Richards strode majestically with a cap and Sunil Gavaskar for most part of his life played without the protection of a helmet but in the end had a skull cap disguised in a panama cap on.  Modern day cricketers have good quality head gear. 

The  comparison to the cricketing arena should stop here.  The helmet rule has been on and off; enforcement has always been lax.  Back in 2002,  the Govt. was keen to enforce it strictly.  The usual hue and cry is that helmet is uncomfortable in hot weather, they have to be carried in person in the fear of being stolen away, difficult to share, it sweats, hear fall and more…… some also complain that it restrains the vision and affects hearing whilst driving.

BUT think of it – does any one complain of vision and hearing being affected when they use a mobile whilst driving ?   In May 2007, there was a decree by Madras High Court on statutory requirement of helmet for riders of two wheelers which forced to G.O. by the State Govt.

Carrying a helmet could cause inconvenience but helmet wearing it to be followed not because it is regulation – people need to care for themselves and save their head.. Months have passed by; people continue to drive without helmets and once in a while you suddenly see Traffic cops on road, stopping some and fining some. The game goes on.  The number of road users (which includes two wheeler drivers, pedestrians and others) speaking on their mobile phones whilst on road (whether walking, crossing or driving) is perennially increasing and every other person seem to be enjoying such act without realizing the harm that they could cause to others and to themselves.  People refuse to listen and see reason.


Strange are the ways of people…………..  Now read that earlier article…..
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Dear (s)
Have a look at that photo at the start of this post..

 Traffic jam is nothing new…….. but this scene at the arterial road where vehicles were stranded for nearly 3 hours was brought out by surging crowds lining up to buy   helmets !!!!   A government-set deadline seems set to achieve what neurosurgeons' advice could not. It is apparent that fear of law and fines is more important than any concern on their own for their lives.  There has been a heavy rush in helmet retail stores over the past week. Some stores were open till midnight to accommodate the rush. Lot of pavement vendors had also sprung up making quick money.    For a city which boasts of educated population, it was definitely not a worthy sight to see hundreds lined up on the street, disrupting the traffic in a mad scramble to buy helmets.  There have been many activated campaigns. 

City traffic  must be much safer from today on !!. According to Govt. sources,  the two wheeler population, as on January 2007, in Tamil Nadu was  71,81,084, out of which, 15, 19,357 are in Chennai City alone.  TN Govt. by their Order GO MS 292 made wearing of helmet to two wheeler drivers and pillion riders in the State of Tamil Nadu.   Going by the order, two wheeler riders, including pillion riders, must compulsorily wear helmets;  and front seat occupants of all cars manufactured after 1994 must compulsorily wear seat belts.  Failure to do so will attract penal provisions — Rs.100 for first-time offenders; Rs.300 for second-time offenders; and cancellation of licence for repeated offenders

This came into effect from the early hours of today – 1st June 2007  in Chennai and other 5 Municipal Corporations (Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Salem, Tirunelveli); this will be implemented from 1 7 07 in the other parts of the State.

Hopefully, this should bring down the no. of RTA victims and sanity prevails on road.
With regards

S Sampathkumar

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