In what comes as a disturbing fact, 25 kids die every day in India on road accidents If one takes into account the total accidents involving kids in India annually (2017 figures), the number stands at a whopping 9,408.
Many of these accidents involve two-wheelers and a large incidence involve riding with a helmet.
These figures were revealed at a day-long workshop by Synergie, a CSR consulting and implementation organisation, Global Road Safety Partnership, an international NGO, and hosted by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Not wearing helmet significantly increases the risk of head injury or death.
Going by the 2017 data, the total number of deaths and injuries for riding without wearing helmets stands at 35,975 and 36,687 respectively.
"Children overspeed, engage in rash driving and seldom wear helmets," was the common comment of experts who participated in a panel discussion. To top it all, there is a dark world of bike stunts and races.
"Education, awareness and enforcement must go together," said Jitendra Patil, Joint Transport Commissioner, Maharashtra. According to Indrani Maitra, the founder of Synergie, the issue is a psychological one. "If a kid is hurt or something worse has happened, the entire family is disturbed. Imagine the case when we are in an age of nuclear families and single child," he said.
The joint transport commissioner said that the government is sincere in its efforts and wants to enforce and ensure the helmet rule. He said that education is the key to addressing such issues. "We are educating the kids about the importance of helmets," he said.
In a definitive step towards addressing the issue, the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill has been passed by the Union Cabinet on June 24, 2019 and is now due to be presented in Parliament. This amendment has substantially increased fines for traffic violations. Under the amended bill, not wearing a helmet will attract a fine of Rs. 1,000 and suspension of driving license for 3 months.
As a follow-up to the workshop, Synergie will organise road safety awareness programs in Mumbai schools. This awareness drive will also focus on counselling parents whose children are found riding pillion on a two-wheeler, without a helmet.