Students of Meenakshi college, Chennai, discuss road safety measures.

While on road, take a look around you. It would be an alarming sight, especially if you are a conscientious citizen — girls all dressed up, riding at a brisk pace, but without a helmet on, boys clinging on to the bus caring more for their bag, footwear and dress but not their own life, busy men and women engrossed in conversation on the mobile phone, oblivious to their surroundings.

These are educated, literate people who are aware of the consequences of not following rules on road but they assume that no accident can occur to them. This hope may not hold good always, and if caught in an accident, they may have to pay a heavy price for that.

A group of girls from Meenakshi College for Women, Kodambakkam came together to discuss the ways and means of making Chennai roads safer. They say pedestrian crossings are not useable, and many a time, vehicles stop by only when there is a traffic police in the vicinity. “We prefer to cross in groups, this forces vehicles to stop by, even in the absence of a policeman,” they say in unison.

Wearing a helmet while riding a bike and fastening your seatbelts while driving a car is most important. The students came up with forthright comments about various safety-related issues. “The person riding a bike needs to be extra careful as he is more vulnerable to accidents. Not wearing a helmet and four people travelling on it is asking for trouble,’’ says Sambhavi, a III-year B.Sc. (Advanced Zoology and Biotechnology) student of the same college.

“People attach more importance to their looks which is clear in the way they mask themselves; they must spare a thought for their safety as well. One must understand the priority,” she adds vehemently.

Aleena, Ist year, BSc (Plant Biology and Plant Bio-technology) says more awareness needs to be created when it comes to following the rules on road. “Many people, especially college students prefer to send constant text messages even while walking on the road. Others prefer to listen to music on their headphones. This can lead to accidents if they are engrossed,” she says. Dr. Vasanthi Rajagopal, principal, says road rules need to be followed religiously irrespective of whether a traffic policeman is on the watch out or not.

Dr. J. Bhaskaran, dermatologist, who has been practising in the city for more than 25 years, dismisses the belief that wearing helmets can lead to hair fall. “It is a myth. There may be sweating, for which once their travel is over, they have to dry their hair. Wearing a helmet is essential for a safe travel.” He adds that masking the face and head can only do good for your skin. “My word of caution is that one must ensure that the cloth tied is not loose. In case it is, that may lead to accidents.”

“Rules are for your own safety, for your own smooth travel. Follow the rules not for the fear of the cop, not only for your own benefit but for the benefit of other road-users as well,” says Sanjoy Arora, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

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Roads & RailsSeptember 24, 2010