Driving on the city roads is wrought with problems — chaotic traffic, poor traffic regulation, uneven speed-breakers and pot-holed roads take their toll on the riders.

Poor road conditions result in bad backs among those who commute long distance for work. Neurosurgeons say it is the young who suffer the most damage. Problems are compounded if the damage to the spinal cord is identified too late.

“For many, two-wheeler riding is connected with their livelihood. I have advised patients to reduce two-wheeler riding and give the back some rest,” says Apollo Hospital's consultant spine surgeon Sajan K. Hegde.

“Many of them ride long distance, sometimes 60 to 100 km a day, especially those who work in IT and BPO companies,” he adds.

Lizzy (name changed) of Mylapore recalls that frequent rides in autorickshaws resulted in dislocation of a disc in her spinal cord.

“I did not know until the doctor told me that the frequent rides on the continually dug-up road had caused my problem. The doctor told me to avoid such roads,” she says. She has to permanently live with the problem, though she has undergone several surgeries to correct the problem.

According to neurosurgeon K. Deiveegan of the Government General Hospital, 55 to 60 per cent of survivors of road accidents return home with none or minimal damage but the damage, if any, may be permanent.

Though the city hospitals are estimated to receive about 100 to 125 victims of head injury every day, there is no registry yet, he says.

M. Ravi, Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic, says that till September, 40 per cent of the fatalities on city roads involve two-wheelers. He also advocates speed-breakers on side roads that merge into the arterial roads and in school zones.

“It isn't necessary to construct speed-breakers on main roads, as it could affect the flow of traffic. Moreover, the National Highways Authority of India does not permit installation of speed-breakers on highways running through cities.

However, rubberised stumbles have been installed on many roads to cut down the speed of vehicles,” he adds. Mr. Ravi, however, says there is no need for more speed-breakers as speed limits have been strictly implemented for roads here. “Awareness on road accidents and self-discipline for motorists is what is essential for the hour,” he emphasises.

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