No helmets: 63 women killed in two-wheeler accidents last year

The rule that makes helmets optional for women on two-wheelers, to "respect religious sentiments" of a few, appears to be having a drastic effect on fatalities in accidents.

According to recent figures released by the Delhi traffic police, the number of women who died as they didn't wear helmets has gone up to 63 in 2013, against 42 in 2012. Of the 63 who died, only six women were riding the two-wheelers, the rest (57) were pillion riders.

In spite of efforts by police to raise awareness among women, the figure is on the rise. "Of 561 fatal two-wheeler accidents reported this year, 63 were women. The figure is on the rise each passing year just because women are being given the privilege to not abide by the law. This is akin to allowing people to die on roads," Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Anil Shukla said.

Since the law has given women an option to ignore what is "essential" for one's safety, even the law enforcers cannot do much, as the women cannot be fined or booked for it," a senior traffic officer said.

"We can just request them and make them aware. We cannot force them to wear helmets as we do not have the power to do so. It does not count as a violation," the officer said.

"Women usually sit sideways on a two-wheeler, which makes them more vulnerable to accidents, as there is a huge possibility of tipping over and hitting the ground even before the rider. As they do not wear helmets, they are more likely to get a head injury. All women who lost their lives in accidents reported last year did so due to severe head injuries. These lives could have been saved if these women had been wearing helmets," he said.

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