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'Wearing a helmet is akin to caring for one's family'

As Pune traffic police carries out an unpopular drive to enforce the compulsory helmet rule, DCP (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare says it is for two-wheeler riders' safety

People riding two-wheelers at high speeds without wearing helmets is becoming an increasingly common sight in the city. This, despite a spate of accidents in which bikers have lost their lives because they were not wearing a helmet.

To change this mindset, the Pune traffic police has once again undertaken a vigorous drive to enforce the compulsory helmet rule, leaving a lot of Punekars unhappy.


Greater good: Vishwas Pandhare, deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Pic/Mohan Patil

mid-day spoke to Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare to find out the reason behind this drive and what their plan of action is.

Excerpts:

Q. What was the idea behind the drive?
Legally, wearing a helmet is compulsory under the Motor Vehicles Act and we are just trying to implement the rule amongst citizens. I personally feel that every two-wheeler rider should not wear a helmet just to obey rules but realize that doing so will ensure their own safety. We have conducted this drive several times and tried to change the mindset of people and make them aware that safety measures need to be kept in mind while riding
a bike.

Q. Riders complain that wearing a helmet causes inconvenience. How would you respond to that?
I will not deny that wearing a helmet causes some inconvenience while riding, especially since it limits your field of vision. But people need to remember that a helmet can protect them from head injuries in case of an accident and could potentially even save one’s life. I would say a little inconvenience is a small price to pay for one’s safety.

Q. How is the Pune traffic police trying to create awareness amongst riders?
It is an ongoing process and we have been conducting such drives for a couple of years. We are also conducting awareness campaigns in colleges, companies and among the general public. Our efforts have also borne fruit to some extent. Many companies in the Hinjewadi and Magarpatta IT hubs have made helmets compulsory to enter their company premises.

Many NGOs have also actively participated in this campaign. The only thing we want is that people, and especially youngsters, should understand that wearing a helmet is like caring for one’s family. If a person dies in an accident, his/her entire family suffers.

Q. How are you going to take this drive forward?
We are approaching various colleges in the city and trying to make at least one of them agree to make helmets compulsory for entering the college on a two-wheeler. If an example is set by youngsters from one college, all other colleges will also join our drive. After all, the youth are the nation’s future and we can’t afford to lose them in accidents. We will also be starting strict checking drives in all of Pune. Our cops will initially warn people who are not wearing helmets and later start fining them. Once we develop a sense of discipline among riders, we will not need to conduct such checking drives and awareness campaigns.

Understaffed
There are approximately 28 lakh two wheelers in the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad area and the Pune traffic police has a manpower of only around 1,000 cops. So, it is almost impossible for the police to undertake regular drives for checking whether two-wheeler riders are wearing helmets, say traffic police officials.

2 bikers die as bus rams into them

Even as the city traffic police is trying to make helmets compulsory for two-wheeler riders, two youngsters on a bike lost their lives when a PMPML bus rammed into them on Sunday night. Both of them were not wearing helmets
Lohit Paradhi (24) and his friend Abhishek Prasad Singh (29) were out in the Kondhwa area near Sukhwani Complex around 9 pm on Sunday night to buy some household items when a PMPML bus (MH 14 CW 1797) rammed into them.

According to the Kondhwa police, the bus driver lost control over the bus and the duo died on the spot. The bike belonged to Paradhi, who is an MBA student. He and Singh, who works for a private company, were living together in a rented flat in the Kondhwa area. 

An FIR was registered at the Kondhwa police station by Abhishek Kubre, a friend of the duo. The bus driver has been arrested and booked under sections of the IPC and the Motor Vehicles Act.

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