For the first time, the RTO invited over 100 bikers, caught driving without a helmet, for a presentation on the perils of unsafe traffic practices
On a regular day, if a biker is caught without a helmet, chances are that s/he casually slips money into the cop’s hand or agrees to pay the fine.
The officers at the RTO emphasised on the fatalities caused when motorists avoid wearing helmets. Pic/Abhishek Rane
However, on Saturday helmet-less riders were in for a surprise. The Andheri Regional Transport Office (RTO) asked at least 100 offenders to gather in their conference room for a two-hour session. The authorities began by explaining the need to wear helmets and the fatalities caused due to recklessness. Initially, the riders simply stared blankly at the cops, sipping tea or snacking on biscuits indifferently.
What caught their attention was the RTO officers’ presentation involving videos. Some highlighted flawed traffic practices followed in various cities across India, the accident rates and went on to emphasise on the indifference of motorists when it came to traffic rules.
Gradually, the video clips got darker. There were gory videos of accidents across the country captured on CCTV cameras. Injured offenders were seen ruing their decision to ride a bike without helmets. Most of those involved in these accidents were youths.
“I am the father of a teenaged son, and I worry about the safety of the youth on Mumbai’s streets. As parents, we can insist that our kids wear helmets, but the responsibility, at the end, is theirs alone,” said B Kalaskar, Deputy RTO (Borivali) who presided over the meeting. India is said to be accident capital with at least an alarming 15 people killed in road accidents every hour.
Over time, offenders in the room fell silent at the RTO’s presentation, especially during the part where they highlighted how, in India, one in six people die in road accidents due to inadequate medical attention in the ‘golden hour’, while in a developed country like USA, one in 200 people die.
After the presentation, offenders raised questions on the red-tape and problems in the system itself.
“The traffic and RTO cops stand at a distance from the signal to catch motorists, and then take money,” was the grouse of one of the offenders there who claimed that he was caught while others were left out unreasonably.
The authorities, however, claimed that they cannot catch everyone at the same time. Finally, after the event concluded, people were busy collecting their confiscated drivers’ licence against the chalan issued to them. Many came forward and congratulated the authorities for such an initiative and asked them to upload the details of the meeting and the videos online.