A new report based on data provided by state police and transport departments suggests that about 98 two-wheeler users without helmets lost their lives in road accidents every day in 2017. Another staggering number is that of four-wheeler users who do not wear seatbelts - 79 car occupants died a day the last year. Furthermore, nine people died per day while using a cell phone while driving. While the total number of road accidents has declined from about 1.51 lakh in 2016 to 1.48 lakh last year, the number of deaths arising out of lack of safety gear has worsened.
Deaths arising out of two-wheeler users not wearing helmets stood at 10,135 in 2016 and last year the number rose to 36,000. The most number of deaths due to lack of safety gear on two-wheelers was reported in Tamil Nadu with 5,211 casualties, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 4,406 and Madhya Pradesh with 3,183 fatalities.
Out of the total number of casualties in two-wheeler related accidents, 42% were pillion riders. Gujarat happened to have reported more pillion deaths than riders without helmets.
It's a similar story with four-wheeler users driving without seatbelts. The most number of such deaths was reported in Karnataka with 4,035 casualties, followed by Tamil Nadu with 3,497 deaths and Uttar Pradesh reporting 2,897 deaths of car occupants not wearing seatbelts.
The bottom line to the current scenario is that roads users need to look after themselves. The number of road fatalities in our country has been alarming for years. It is enormously surprising that these numbers are still not working as an eye-opener to Indian road users. A lot of people expect the government to take measures to make our roads safer, and we agree. But only to an extent.
The government can only ask you to wear a helmet. There is absolutely nothing anyone can do to protect your head from hitting the road if do happen to take a fall. The first and foremost defence mechanism against road accident fatalities is self-preservation. Helmets and seatbelts are for your own safety. And to the people who say 'it's my life and my decision whether or not I want to protect my self' – think about your families.
And then there is the matter of helmet quality. As seen in the photo above, the man is seen wearing a construction site helmet and no, it won't do much to protect the rider's skull. And neither will the cheap roadside helmets that cost about Rs 100-200. An ISI mark helmet will be compulsory for all two-wheeler users soon, so be wise - get yourself proper helmet(s). And, a two-wheeler is meant for two people (many Indian road users seem to overlook this little detail).