Helmet law not enforced effectively, says study

Bangalore has nearly 25 lakh two-wheelers and only half of the riders wear proper helmets. Besides, only 10 per cent of pillion riders wear helmets.

Though the helmet laws were notified in Karnataka in 2006 and knowledge levels are high, helmet use remains far from satisfactory.

These facts have been brought out in a study on “Road safety in India: a framework in action” by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore.

NIMHANS along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion conducted a research on road accidents and traffic deaths in Bangalore and came up with several unusual facts.

The study said though a majority of the two-wheeler riders wear helmets in Bangalore , only half of them use proper helmets. The study says properly worn helmets can prevent head injuries and even death.

The study says that only 55.6 per cent of all two-wheeler wear full-faced helmets, 32.9 per cent wear half-head helmet and 11.5 per cent half-face helmet.

Calling for stricter enforcement of the helmet law, the study pioneered by G. Gururaj of the Department of Epidemology, NIMHANS, says data from Hyderabad and Pune too support the findings.

It says proper helmets protect users from brain injury related deaths, serious injuries, skull factures and neurological disabilities.

Seat belts

The study says though seat belts and child restraints are known to reduce deaths and injuries among car occupants, their usage is very low.

Most of the cars now come with seat belts but in Bangalore city only 27.1 per cent of car occupants use them. As regards child restraints, it says even though there is an effort to make them mandatory, the Government is yet to come up with such a law.

It says seat belts, airbags and child restraints has reduced deaths by 30 per cent and the WHO has recommended crash protective vehicles.

The survey calls for helmets not only for two-wheeler riders but also cyclists as they are the second highest category of persons killed on Bangalore's roads.

Pedestrians account for the highest number of killed in accidents.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security) Praveen Sood says he concurs with the findings of the survey but has his own doubts on how much of enforcement can help regulate traffic and instil the desire in motorists to obey traffic and motor vehicle rules.

“We can check whether a motorist is wearing a helmet or not but do we have the time and the expertise to check the quality and safety of such devices, he asks.

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