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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Helmet compulsory in Tamil Nadu ..... chaos in Chennai

See this photo and  guess the reason for the traffic jam.  This is an article circulated to my friends on 1st June 2007… recirculated in 2o11 !
photo credit : Dinamalar 2007

Before you read that, here  are some  of my thoughts :  Chennai bustles with traffic – two wheelers, three wheelers / auto rickshaws / fish carts, cars, buses, trucks, tankers, bullock carts and other mechanical contraptions  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.  Curiously some who carry helmets, have it dangling on the rearview mirror [closing its purpose too!]

Do we require a Police Cop and Law for the wellbeing of Self !  Way back in 2007 [and on earlier occasions too ….] Govt. of Tamilnadu promulgated compulsory wearing of helmets by both drivers and pillion riders – 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.  SandipPatil during the tour to Australia in 1980-81 had his ear torn by a Lenny Pascoe bouncer.  Mohinder lost some teeth inCaribbean land. KrishSrikkanth had his arm fractured by a Bishop’s vicious raiser.  The BishanBedi’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.  MadanLal was once ridiculed for backing and termed Madam lal. ….and Phil Hughes passed away struck on back head, though he was hearing helmet.

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..

Tamil Nadu Government recently  announced that wearing of helmet by motorists will be compulsory from July 1, 2015, with violators facing the risk of their vehicle documents being impounded.“This is to inform the public that wearing of helmet by two-wheeler driver and rider is compulsory from 01.07.2015, failing which, all the documents of the two-wheeler including the driving licence of the driver shall be impounded under section 206 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988,” a Government release said.The impounded documents would be released only on production of new ISI certified helmet with purchase receipt, it added.

On June 8, the Madras High Court observed that it was disheartening to note that a number of precious lives were lost due to non-wearing of protective headgear and made wearing of helmets compulsory.Justice N Kirubakaran passed the order after taking note of statistics provided by the Home Secretary that 6,419 people lost their lives in Tamil Nadu in 2014 alone as they failed to wear helmets while riding two-wheelers.

Traffic jam is nothing new…….. but this was the  scene at the arterial Mount  road on 2007 when  vehicles were stranded for nearly 3 hours, brought out by surging crowds lining up to buy   helmets !!!!   there was  a heavy rush in helmet retail stores and some stores were open till midnight to accommodate the rush. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd June 2015.

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