A survey has found that only 45% of riders in the district wear helmets while riding their two-two-wheelers.
Another finding of the survey done in June at 10 busy intersections by researchers V. Varsha Vasuhe and Sumana Narayanan of Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), a non-profit non-political organisation working on road safety issues since 2015, is that only 36% of car drivers fasten the seat belts.
Road crashes are attributed to various causes such as poor road infrastructure, rash or aggressive driving behaviour, drunken driving, violation of traffic rules such as jumping red lights, lane indiscipline and distracted driving. One of the factors that contributes significantly to road safety, but has been subject to a lackadaisical attitude by citizens, is the use of safety gear such as helmets, seat belts and child seats. About 52% of road deaths involving two-wheelers happened due to non-wearing of helmets in 2017.
However, the declining trend in fatalities did not reflect in the compliance to wearing helmets as 60% of two-wheeler road fatalities in Tamil Nadu have been attributed to non-wearing of helmets in 2020.
Research evidences show that the risk of a crash leading to a fatality reduces considerably with the use of a safety gear giving solid ground to tighten enforcement through increased penalties as per the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019.
Ten identified intersections of Tirunelveli district – Cheranmahadevi – Papanasam Road, Mukkoodal Bus-Stop, Suththamalli – Police Station Junction, Nanguneri Main Road, Palayamkottai Bus-Stand, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Ettankulam Bus-Stop, Thatchanallur – four-way Junction, Tirunelveli Town Arch and KTC Nagar - were surveyed during morning and evening hours during the week.
The study surveyed 16,858 two-wheelers and revealed that non-compliance levels among drivers vary with the intersection and with the time of day. For example, in the Tirunelveli Town Arch intersection one can observe a high 81% non-compliance with wearing helmets during the morning peak hours, whereas the evening peak hours witnessed only 22% non-compliance. Similarly, the intersection identified on Cheranmahadevi-Papanasam Road also witnessed 62% non-compliance with wearing helmets during the morning peak hours, whereas the evening peak hours witnessed 36% non-compliance.
Overall, the analyses reveal an average compliance of 45% in wearing helmets among drivers and a 3% average compliance among pillion riders. These findings stress the need to focus on stringent enforcement measures to increase compliance among drivers and pillion riders.
The study surveyed 4,019 cars and found non-compliance with wearing seat belts by drivers to be high across most of the locations. Assessing the non-compliance with wearing seat belts among front and rear seat passengers, the study reveals seat belt compliance levels are very poor among passengers in general. The average compliance level among front seat passengers stands at 36% and a poor 18% in the case of rear seat passengers.
Number of road accidents
Fatalities due to non-wearing of helmet
“Use of safety gears like helmets and seat belts continue to remain at unsatisfactory levels among road users despite existing national laws that stress their significance and need,” say Ms. Varsha and Ms. Sumana.
The researchers recommend enforcement of laws and increased fine by notifying increased penalties under Sections 194D and 194 B of Motor Vehicle Act 2019 alone would effectively reduce loss of precious lives on roads by deploying adequate number of police personnel on all busy stretches. Moreover, regular collection and compiling of data will help the enforcers to identify repeat offenders and identify areas that require improved enforcement, they say.