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Updated: June 14, 2012 13:42 IST

Youth seeking comfort compromise on safety

City Bureau
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STYLE OR SAFETY: Youngster are quite reluctant to wear helmet and comply with road rules despite head injuries claiming many lives. Photo:M.Periasamy
The Hindu
STYLE OR SAFETY: Youngster are quite reluctant to wear helmet and comply with road rules despite head injuries claiming many lives. Photo:M.Periasamy

‘Youngsters love two-wheelers but hate helmets citing lame reasons'

Cases of youngsters, including students, dying in road accidents have brought into sharp focus the reluctance among the youth to adopt safety measures while driving. With the new academic year set to begin, the emphasis is on sensitising college students to the risk of ignoring helmets and seat belts.

Only 10 per cent of the people in Coimbatore city wear helmets, says an official in the City Police's Traffic Investigation Wing (TIW).

The number of accidents registered by the wing in 2011 was 1,126, of which 254 were fatal. Till May this year, 449 accident cases were registered and 112 of these were fatal. While the TIW says it does not have a specific number of head injury cases, it says the number of two-wheelers involved in these accidents was more.

Police have identified Sathyamangalam Road, Palakkad Road, Podanur Road, Lakshmi Mills Junction, SNR Junction, Thottipalayam Pirivu, Chinniampalayam Junction and Cross Cut Road as accident prone areas.

Many of the accident victims had suffered severe head injuries because they did not wear helmets. They die at a productive age; some of them during a brilliant academic phase and some others when they are at the threshold of a promising career.

Doctors, especially trauma care specialists, bemoan the attitude of the public, especially youngsters, who cite untenable reasons such as the risk of balding for not wearing helmets. The commonest reason for not wearing a seat belt is the shirt getting crumpled. Non-enforcement of helmet and seat belt rule is also blamed for this situation.

While an engineering student says it is quite uncomfortable wearing a helmet during summer, a young professional claims it reduces audibility and one cannot hear the mobile phone's ring. But, there are youngsters who value safety.

K.L. Sai Sharada, a third year engineering student of Coimbatore Institute of Technology, says “A college mate used to wear helmet grudgingly. But, she realised the value of the helmet when she met with an accident. The helmet prevented serious head injury.”

Shruthi, a second year student of Ramakrishna Dental College, says “A few months ago, I skidded while driving on the flyover. I did not sustain any serious injury because I wore a helmet.”

Students of Dr. G.R.D. College of Science, recall that a student of their college died after being thrown off the pillion of a motorcycle. Naveen Kumar, an engineering student of PSG College of Technology, who landed a good job in a campus interview, died in a road accident. When his organs were being donated, his friends said the young man sustained a fatal head injury as he did not wear a helmet.

Very few colleges insist that student wear helmets. Some vehicle users wear the helmet but do not strap it on. This does not provide safety. The helmet can slip off the head during an accident and the head can get injured.

Only 10 per cent of the people in Coimbatore city wear helmet, say officials in the City Police's Traffic Investigation Wing.

D. Kausalya, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Dr. G.R. Damodaran College of Science says, “Youngsters think it is a style statement to ride fast without wearing helmet. Teachers and parents are responsible for creating awareness among them, and must take combined efforts to emphasise the importance of safety over style.”

Talking of stunts, even a group of professional bike stuntmen, Throttlerz, advocate safety. Says member of the group A. Sathyaraj: “We do not even practise without wearing helmet and other safety gears. We also advise the public to follow all safety measures while riding two-wheelers. We have done awareness programmes on safety while driving.”

(With inputs from Sruthi R. Mallya, V. Shwetha, Varsha Nair and S. Deepika)

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