The recent reports about wearing helmets being made compulsory from January 01, 2019 has evoked mixed response from the residents of Pune. While most of the metro cities adhere to wearing helmets as a rule, residents of Pune are still not willing to adopt it wholeheartedly.
There are many questions being put up which include why compulsion?whether using helmets cause damage to neck and spine, whether wearing helmets can guarantee complete safety and whether narrow lanes and slow moving traffic actually make wearing helmets necessary
While it might be true those roads in old Pune are narrow and traffic is slow moving, but that does not mean there is no risk of head injuries.
Many roads in newer suburbs are wide and we see cars and bikes zooming all the time. Many of these roads also cross through highways. In such a situation safety measures are a must.
Dr Kapil Zirpe Head of Neurocritical Department at Ruby Hall Clinic said, “We should not wait for any enforcement. Use of helmets is for our own good and should start using with immediately. The head injuries and the trauma that follows have a severe impact on not only the patients but also their family. All of them including the patient are affected emotionally, physically and financially. Head injuries are traumatic and mostly land up youngsters or earning members into hospitals and the recovery that follows may be long term that cripples their life.”
He added, “The argument of discomfort and neck problems does not arise as travelling in Pune most of the times is not more than half hour to hour, to and fro from the office. Also the new trend of helmetless driving using hands free sets and talking on the mobile phones while driving is very dangerous and should be stopped immediately.”
He further said, “Whether one is driving slowly or narrow lanes of Pune, he or she is an equal risk of head injuries as not only speed but the impact on the surface also defines the nature of the injury.”
Dr Sunil Rao, COO Sahyadri Group of Hospitals said, “As organisation we have always advocated safety measures, be it wearing helmets or seatbelts. We believe that instead of compulsion, these safety measures should be followed willingly by us for our own good. Our emergency units and trauma centres are the first to witness the impact of road accidents on helmetless drivers.”
He added, “The recovery process in such accidental cases may take long time and affects not only the patient but his/her entire family. As a leading healthcare organization, we have always tried to create awareness on various important topics which have a deep impact on the society.”
Dr Rao elaborated, “Two years back we had organised a campaign titled, ‘Use your head, wear helmet’ under which we hosted various safety quiz contests for college students and distributed helmets at RTO. I think it is time to intensify such campaigns.”
Dr Vishal Roader, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Sancheti Hospital said, “Just in the way our skull protects the delicate parts of our brain; helmet is like the second skull. More often it minimises the impact that an accident has on the brain.”
He added, “Similarly using seat belts while driving cars may minimize or avoid spine injuries which literally cripple the entire life of the injured with some form of disability. People should look at helmets and seat belts as a form of protection and adopt it immediately.”
Dr Nilesh Bhandari, Consultant Neurologist at Sancheti Hospital said, “Not only the drivers, but also pillion riders should use helmet as both have risk of injuries.”
He added, “Leave alone serious injuries, even in case of trivial brain injuries, the quality of life may be affected as the injured may get paralysis, double vision, vertigo, may experience difficulty in maintaining balance and coordination. The recovery in head injuries is long term and affects not only the patients but also their family.”
He concluded saying, “Many people avoid helmets citing many reasons but taking into consideration the benefits of using helmets, there cannot be any excuse about discomfort in using helmets.”