Editor's Pick

Helmets and seat belts – A choice between life and death


Florine Roche
Daijiworld Media Network -Mangalore

Mangalore, Jun 5: Just last week in a spate of three days there were three noticeable bike accidents in and around Mangalore in which at least four youngsters in the age group of 18-25 lost their precious lives. For Wilson Misquith of Kaikamba the joy ride with two other friends proved to be his last ride. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and eyewitness say the helmet was in the side box of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Apart from losing his own life he jeopardized the lives of his friends and that of other motorist whom he collided with. The fate of his friends who were thrown on the road along with him is not known. 


Roshan, a young engineer lost his life when a lorry hit him near Bappanadu and he died of road injuries. In another tragic accident two youngsters - Rakesh Shettigar and Anish Shetty died when a car that changed the lane suddenly without any signal on the highway and rammed on to the bike the boys were riding near Bappanadu. Anish died on the spot and Rakesh succumbed to his injuries the next day. Needless to say, most of the road traffic accidents in our country are caused by head injuries due to road accidents. In all these three accidents young lives were snuffed out just when they were blooming. This is a considerable loss not only to the families in term of lives but also to the nation at large. 

It is true that in a grisly accident even a helmet cannot save the life of the injured person. It is also true that in most cases of road accidents head injuries are said to be the leading causes of death, which means wearing a helmet could save many precious lives. I am not sure whether Roshan whose Bullet was hit by a lemon-filled lorry or Anish who was riding the bike with Rakesh Shettigar on pillion, were wearing helmets or not at the time of accident. But one cannot deny the fact that helmets can save the lives of two wheeler riders by a whisker and seat belts can be life savers to four wheeler riders and its occupants or in case of terrible accidents the severity of the injury can be minimized to a great extent. . 

It is true that easy and faster means of transportation is the boon of modern civilization road traffic accidents is the bane of the same development. Increasing number of two-wheelers, non-compliance with rules, non-adherence to lane discipline, rash driving, drunken driving and lack of awareness about helmets cause most of the accidents in our country. Lane discipline is something which we Indians have never adhered to despite efforts to educate the public on its importance. 

Amidst our rash, waywardly and unruly driving habits many among us take great pride in wearing helmets just for the sake of escaping from the eagle eyes of the police. That is why it is a common site to see youngsters riding their bikes with helmets in their hands or pinned to the hook of the bike. Helmets cover their heads only when they approach major road junctions or where they know a traffic police is manning the junction. 

So who are we trying to fool around when we see youngsters go around speeding on their new-generation speed bikes without bothering to wear helmets? What is the point in having a helmet if the rider takes the trouble of wearing it only when he comes across a traffic police? Why do we need policing at every step of our routine activity? Why such a stubborn aversion to obey laws, rules and regulations when we make a great fuss about our rights and freedom? Finding an answer to these questions is not easy because we are determined to derive little pleasures in making a mockery of our laws, even if it is at the cost of our own lives. 

Of course there are aberrations in the law which makes no sense at all. It is a pathetic site to see a family of four on a motor cycle with only the rider wearing the helmet while the other three who are equally or are more at risk, go unprotected. In January this year a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in Delhi High Court challenging the provision of the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules that gives exemption to women from wearing helmets. Though the PIL was rejected just a month ago the Delhi government issued a gazette notification just a month back, making it mandatory for women riders also to wear helmets. It is high time other states take note of the high road accidents involving two wheelers and make wearing helmets compulsory. 

Similarly, wearing seat belts is compulsory in many states including Delhi. Though all the modern cars are fitted with seat belts we don’t make it a habit to wear them because wearing seat belts is not compulsory in Karnataka. We know it takes only a few minutes to wear seat belts and the process is less cumbersome as compared to wearing helmets. But somehow, we harbor some distaste to wearing it. May be an order making it compulsory to wear seat belts might encourage people to wear seat belts regularly whenever they travel. 

Taking precautionary steps to safeguard our lives is one thing and seeking the intervention of god to ensure our safety is another. May be we need a mixture of both these apart from concerted efforts to educate the public on the rewards of wearing helmets and seat belts. 

Union health minister Dr Harshavardhan suggested that the tragic death of union minister Gopinath Munde could have been prevented if he had worn the seat belts while travelling. How we wish Munde and many others like him would not have overlooked the importance of seat belts or protective helmets! 

Comment on this article

  • D.V.RAMANA REDDY, VIJAYAWADA

    Wed, Oct 1 2014

    i have seen the article and felt that the strict implementation of helmet and seatbelt can be achieved subject to condition that when the enforcement authority i.e police are adhere to the MV RULES AND ACT.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • roshan, manipal

    Sun, Sep 21 2014

    Can any one please tell me where to find branded helmets in and around udupi/manipal.I have been looking for quite sometime but could'nt find myself.please help

    DisAgree [3] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Joe Gonsalves, Mangalore

    Sun, Jun 22 2014

    In several countries it is mandatory for motor bike riders to wear helmets. In India however the rule is not strictly imposed. That apart it is found that sometimes a whole family is found riding a motor cycle and what is worse is that small children are taken for rides by irresponsible parents.

    It is time that the law enforcement branch comes down strictly on these people to ensure safety and save lives.

    Joe Gonsalves

    DisAgree [5] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • prashanth, M,lore

    Mon, Jun 16 2014

    Very interesting2c so many armchair experts commenting about wearing helmets.I have few observations myself.First of all i,m 100% sure that hardly any of them are drivers themselves.2b an authorised commentator i think u should b a driver/rider also.because i think the issue does not affect u personally.Basically i feel if u feel like wearing a helmet/seat belt then of course u r most welcome 2do so.The point really is hilighting a few very gory incidents themselves is true, the bare fact is that u may be surprised 2learn that injuries or worse have happened even if it was in place.Save ur breath folks, r u really interested in saving some1,s life(not ur own remember u r speaking 4 others).U can start by Improving whats wrong with or on the road 2 begin with.Very bad roads r responsible4 the vast majority of the accidents.remember proper sadak,bijli & pani is the most important requirments 2b given by the Govt2 its people.Govt collects several hundereds of crores of rupees4 the purpose&what is the result?roads do not get tarred properly even as per min standards4 years 2gether.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Capt.cornelio, udyavar

    Fri, Jun 6 2014

    Entire udupi /mangalore belt has no regards for safety.In udupi till today most are not wearing helmets ,talking on mobile while riding bikes on high speed putting innocent peoples life in risk.Will the Sp of udupi wake up as he seems to be a cool guy just to come for time pass.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Evans Christopher Sumitra, Udupi, Dubai, New York

    Fri, Jun 6 2014

    Helmets is a must for all riders of bike and pillion riders. Seat belts a must to all drivers. Also talking on mobile phones and texting while driving or riding should be banned. They save precious lives and if injured there will be less patients admitted to a hospitals. This should be strictly implemented to save lives.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • paul dsouza, balakunje

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    These corrupt road contractors must be included the speed breakers in their scope of work(strictly inclusive to lift the left over waste from the side of the road after the work done). First of all if they know the design (size, length,height, colour) of speed breakers if they are aware...? God save innocent drivers life from these corrupt officers & the contractors. Also should take strict actions on rash bus & truck drivers. Some one feel sad when their own people dies.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Joe Gonsalves, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    It is a good and instructive article very well written. Rules regarding wearing of seat belts by people occupying the front seats of the car and rules regarding helmets have been there for sometime in India. May be that the rules are not strictly enforced in Mangalore. It is therefore expedient that the law enforcement branch enforce the relative rules and the defaulters are fined.

    In the United States any one not wearing seat belts are fined $150/- and the department of law and order is very strict regarding any defaults.

    Hope the drivers in India follow the guidelines and ensure that they save lives of several people apart from their own lives.

    Joe Gonsalves

    DisAgree [5] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dev, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    Florine Roche-
    Please add use of CELL PHONES while driving by all vehicle riders including 2 wheeler, who flip their phones & gaze at their phones while driving & lose concentration on roads & cause accidents as well.
    Its a Far Bigger Menace which might contribute in statistics of accidents mounting every year.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • mithun, mangalore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    simple reason for all this,and if i may generalize, is that we are not sensitized to the seriousness and importance of personal safety from childhood, Neither in the school curricula, nor by the care takers.Educating people is the only way out and it is easier than policing.

    The license issuing organizations are to be blamed here. lax tests and lethargic, greedy personnel waiting to hand out licenses for crumbs, they need to be kicked out.

    if we see the tests that take place in UAE and other countries,the whole system here looks like a joke, they can be better off handing out licenses like bus passes.

    Other reason is too many of us jostling for space in a sub standard riding/driving environment.trucks buses cows jay walkers sharing the same single lane road. frustration builds up and mistakes happen.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossy Dsouza, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    I guess main reason of deaths on the road not helmets and seat belts, but its not obeying the law and lack of knowledge.look at the roads,pathetic!I guess its take long time in our country to educate everyone to follow the laws, Ask this questions to yourself .Do you stop for zebra crossing?Do you overtake from left side? Do you wear a helmet or seat belt only to fool police?how many persons ride motor bikes over crowded? Child on the petrol tank and person squeezed between rider and pillion? Do you maintain your vehicle, specially tire and brake? check the emission?is it safe to ride?
    How many schools and colleges are teaching awareness and safety? Do you feel present generation has any respect for life? what about drinking and driving? as long as our police taking bribe you can rest assure all is well and things are taken care !Right? First of all people Change your hearts,Lead a good sample to the young ones.They are copy cats.If we respect our people, then we respect our laws as well.my firm belief that until and unless people desire changes and educate themselves to safe driving,nothing changes, Road deaths and accidents will continue.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • jessy, uae

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    hi robin I liked ur comment hell style

    DisAgree [1] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Robin, Byndoor

    Fri, Jun 6 2014

    Thank you jessey, UAE.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • geoffrey, hat hill

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    Unfortunately in our country people are habituated to violate the law at every given opportunity. The only language we understand is that of punitive action and as we all know prevailing paltry amount of fines for traffic offenses fail to thwart people from committing them. It’s not only about seat belts and helmets, breaking suddenly on the middle of the road, over speeding, overtaking from wrong direction, parking on the sidewalks, signal jumping just to name a few. Ironically we see in all the rallies held for various reasons, riders on two wheelers without helmets right under the noses of traffic cops and our leaders.What message we are sending by this?
    The only solution seems to be making law sterner, increasing fine by may folds, including imprisonment and revoking of DL.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Af, mangalore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    Mr.Dr Harshavardhan(health minister of india)
    Whether your old Ambassador cars have the seat belt first?
    why our schools does not teach our children Indian road safety standards? instead of they teach useless subjects which is no way help in the future of student in his career life.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dev, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    I remember an interaction with a Police Officer in a Club where he was a Chief Guest & he told a True Story-
    Whenever he saw a rider of 2 wheeler without helmet, he used to fine them. Once he fined a youth for not wearing a helmet, though he pleaded its just a few yards from his home he is riding.
    But this officer fined him, after a few weeks the rider came back & thanked the officer for making him wear the helmet as he met with an accident & his head was saved by his helmet as he had made it a habit to wear it however short the ride from his home.
    Many riders doesn't know even a fall from slow moving vehicle could be life threatening.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ramesh S, mangalore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    ..Timely article..even pillions riders must have helmets..it is reported that Union Minister Mr.Munde could have saved his life if he has worn seat belt even if he sat in back seat..Its shocking to learn that in INDIA its not mandatory for Car manufacturer to provide Airbag!!..where as in other countries even trucks have these safety equipments..we should also note that in western countries from the primary school itself traffic rules are taught..but in our country we learn this while applying for getting licence that also for name sake..

    DisAgree [1] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • PRABHU, Mlore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    Why are the Indians scared of the Indians,
    MAKE HELMETS AND SEAT BELTS COMPULSORY IN INDIA.
    A CENTRAL LAW NOT A STATE ONE .
    EVERY VEHICLE SIGNALS NONE WEARING OF SEAT BELT.BUT THE LAW DOES NOT APPLY ....WHY ?

    DisAgree Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Balu, Manglore

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    The purpose of seat belt and helmet for safety, we should use always to keep us safe.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • taurojohn, mangalore/malad

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    Our safety is in our hands. Seat belt for four wheels and helmet for two wheelers must be made compulsory. also the speed limits to be applied to all areas.penalty for defaulters must be heavily charged.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • readerwriter007, pune

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    Dear Florine Roche, good article and well articulated. But unfortunately we , others or who are reading these news at Daiji feel so much that we spend some time commenting some remedy actions, recommendations, improvement measures. But I feel , nobody is listening because such accidents are increasing day by day. No youth are listening because I see everyday the way they drive putting their lives at risk under wheels of other vehicles. No authorities listen us as I don't see any drastic measures taken. Our people will listen only if rule is implemented strictly. Peanlise them for all these breaks which you mentioned. We were discussing here in office, as at US, people have experiences where your car is stopped by corps for you not wearing seat belt. Corp stop you on the stop if you break a speed limit. Here in our country, forget they stop and alert, no action taken even some one kill some one due to reckless driving or drunk and drive... what ever crime you do, nobody is punished severely that he think twice before he commits same mistake next time. here the same driver who kill an innocent on the road will be driving the same bus next day , above that... he will be with same speed and style.

    any ways, being responsible citizens we will keep doing the same whether it's listend or not. Good effort to alert the society and if any one is inspired by your article also, it's a great victory for you.

    Once again thanks for being a responsible citizen, appreciated.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Robin, Byndoor

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    Madam, Instead of putting a unilateral view you could conduct an interview of our students, parents, teachers about the usage of the same.

    Though accidents are happening very in front of their eyes the students are not ready to wear helmets - reason being helmets cover their HELL style. They want freedom at the cost of life.

    Colleges are not daring enough to ban bikes in colleges - reason being colleges are hungry of students and they don't want to LOOSE their MARKET.

    If a student is coming for a college and if his home is nearby, why he want bike ? Bike was invented a long back. Bike manufacturers were not able to increase their no. of wheels. They kept only two as usual. But every year they changed ONLY their style to go our boys mad and die on roads.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • HENRY MISQUITH, Bahrain

    Thu, Jun 5 2014

    Make helmets & seat belts mandatory.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

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