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Widespread resentment over helmet rule in Ongole

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FORCED PURCHASE: Motorcyclists swarm helmet shops in Ongole.
FORCED PURCHASE: Motorcyclists swarm helmet shops in Ongole.

Special Correspondent

Motorcyclists on a headgear-buying spree as rule comes into force

No need to implement helmet rule, say two-wheeler ownersDriving with helmets on is cumbersomeHelmets prevent rider from hearing horns of other vehicles

ONGOLE: As the police began implementing the helmet rule in Ongole, motorcyclists are making a beeline to the shops to buy the headgear spending Rs. 300 to Rs. 700 each.

There is widespread resentment among two-wheeler owners over the rule. They contend that there is no need to implement the rule in small towns like Ongole where the roads are too bad and crowded for vehicles to move at speeds higher than 20-30 km per hour. While accidents involving two-wheelers are few, deaths due to head injury are fewer and they do not warrant wearing of helmet, they argue.

They contend that driving the vehicles wearing helmets is cumbersome. Many persons wearing helmets find it difficult to hear the horn of a vehicle approaching from behind. They also point out that neurologists differ on the utility of helmet in preventing deaths. Good roads and careful driving can prevent accidents and deaths more than helmets, they felt.

Head injury

But Deputy Superintendent of Police Konda Reddy said that two motorcyclists died in town limits only last month due to head injury. He said that they are bound to implement directions of the High Court on wearing of helmets by motorcyclists, wearing of seat belts by car drivers and preventing people from using mobile phone while driving the vehicles.

Police started implementing these rules in Ongole from March 9. They educated the people through print and electronic media on the need to follow these rules for one month and began imposing fines on defaulters only from April 10.

They booked 292 cases for helmet-less driving and collected fines amounting to Rs. 27,200 and five cases for failure to wear seat belts and collected Rs. 500 as fine and booked 17 cases for talking on cellphone while driving and collected fine of Rs. 8,500.

ISI mark

He appealed to people to buy helmets with ISI mark and use them for their own safety. He said that there are about 40,000 two-wheelers in Ongole town and said there is no dearth of helmets. He promised to take action against shop-keepers who sell helmets at higher rates.

But the road-users said that helmet rule is being implemented more to benefit the manufacturers than users.

They pointed out that helmet rule was introduced four times in the last 10 years and everytime it was withdrawn after two or three months. Police implement the rule strictly till 60-70 per cent of vehicle owners buy and use helmet. Later, they discontinue the drive and the helmets reach the attics. Who is benefited, they ask.

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