Campaign to protect rogue riders
‘NO helmet, no petrol’ campaign being undertaken by the police department, with the traffic control police spearheading the drive, reflects not only apparent lack of awareness among the state masses about road safety and traffic regulations but defiance of the safety norms wilfully, particularly by the youngsters who are seen zipping across the streets on their two-wheelers. Though road safety guidelines have been in existence for far too long, the campaign being enforced more vigorously these days indicates that the two-wheeler riders are yet to digest the importance of wearing helmets for their own wellbeing, thus compelling authoritative enforcement of mandatory compliance to the prescribed safety norms. Considering the marked increase in number of multi-gear system speedier two-wheelers, motorcycles to be specific in Manipur, wearing protective gear had become inevitable for preventing calamitous consequences in case accidents occur. The urgency for strictly enforcing the rules could also be comprehended from reports about some riders using helmets of others to procure petrol from retail outlets and the helmet possessors themselves regarding the safety gear only as a means for refilling the tank rather than using them while cruising on the road. As such individuals are amongst those vulnerable to fatalities the law enforcement agencies will have to shoulder additional responsibility and maintain top vigil to protect even the most rule-defiant riders.
Surveys conducted on ‘road traffic accidents’ by two research scholars of Manipur and publication of their findings some 10 years back revealed that Manipur too was not immune from motor mishaps for the said study recorded 205 cases of road traffic accidents brought to the mortuary of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences during September 2007 to August 2009, with male casualty (75.13 %) outnumbering those of the females (24.87 %). Significantly, the scholars reported that majority of the victims were either teenagers or in their early 30s; the age group commonly seen riding two wheelers; and that most of the accidents happened on the national highways, where riders have a tendency to test velocity of the machines. The number of accident-related casualties in Manipur may be far lesser when compared with 2010 data of the National Crime Record Bureau that the number of vehicular accidents was 43,0,600 resulting in 13,3,938 deaths and 470600 injuries, thereby accounting for 37.2 per cent of all accidental deaths due to unnatural causes. However, almost all the roads having a heterogeneous mix of traffic with high speed vehicles, rickshaws, motorcyclists, scooters, cyclists and pedestrians all sharing the same space at the same time makes things difficult, on an already overburdened road infrastructure leading to major accidents in the state. Thus, the time has come to go for the high-end road safety measures, including mandatory use of helmets.