ANDHRA PRADESH

Helmet is must at any cost

HYDERABAD, NOV. 29. If you believe that those suffering from spondylitis and related ailments are exempted from the helmet rule, then you are mistaken.

After the helmet rule is enforced, a few elderly persons have approached the traffic police saying that they cannot wear the headgear as they are suffering from spondylitis and requested that they be exempted from the rule. However, their request has been turned down.

The reason, the police say, is that the law only exempts turban-wearing Sikhs and not anyone else, including women and elderly persons. Even doctors say that wearing of headgear in no way affects such patients.

"Initially, when they approached me, I immediately called up my counterparts in other cities.

A meeting was also held with transport officials and they clearly said that no one, except Sikhs, could be exempted from the rule. Doctors themselves have stated that helmet does not harm such patients," says the Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Tejdeep Kaur Menon.

Australian study

She maintains that there is no such law that exempts patients. "I want to make it clear. Everyone, be it a woman or an elderly person, they have to wear a helmet." But, does this harm those suffering from back pain?

"Helmet has got nothing to do with spondylitis. As we get older, each one of us develops back pain and moreover spondylitis is not a disease. An Australian study shows that helmets protect 85 per cent lives in road accidents, and elders form part of it.

Those who think that wearing the headgear will complicate the problem are completely wrong," says Raja Reddy, head of neuro-surgery at Apollo Hospitals.

"I don't have the power to exempt anyone from the rule. If people suffering from spondylitis feel that wearing helmet will increase the pain, then such people should stop driving a two-wheeler," Ms. Menon maintains.

However, elderly persons are exempted from counselling sessions by the traffic police. "We don't want to put them to difficulty," says the Additional Commissioner.

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