Few drivers wear seat belts in Patna

PATNA: Famous TV couple Sakshi and Ram Kapoor are seen these days in an ad, underlining the import of traffic rules, including use of seat belts, while driving on the newly-commissioned, 165-km NCR-Agra Yamuna Expressway. Such awareness drives notwithstanding, drivers using seat belts are a rare sight in Patna. Also, not everyone wears a helmet while riding a two-wheeler in the city, and the violators include "docile damsels". Worse, city policemen are least bothered. Or, to be fair to them, they do not have the wherewithal to prevent the "anarchy" on the city roads. "Our first priority is to ensure smooth movement of traffic and, as such, we use our limited resources for that," said a senior traffic police officer. This despite the fact that Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act provides for a penalty of Rs 100 for not using helmet or seat belt. The penalty increases to Rs 300 if s/he is caught for the second time. Also, there is provision for penalty if the visibility of windowpanes in four-wheelers is less than 50%. With the number of vehicles increasing in Patna, experts say, the situation would worsen if drivers do not adhere to the rules. According to the Patna district transport office, while 54,361 vehicles were registered with it in 2009, the number went up to 77,338 in 2010 and 85,211 in 2011. Of the vehicles registered in 2011, 57,836 were two-wheelers and 4,292 four-wheelers. While there are figures to show the increase in the volume of traffic on the city roads, the traffic police department doesn't have records on how many 'challans' were issued for not using helmets or seat belts. However, it does have the total number of 'challans' issued for violation of various traffic norms. "If a biker sans helmet meets an accident, the head injury could be fatal," cautioned noted surgeon Dr K K Kanth. Seat belts are also extremely protective for the car drivers. "If one does not wear a seat belt and his car is hit from behind, it can lead to serious chest injury to him. If the tyre of a running car bursts, the driver can have his knee fractured or thigh bone dislocated. There are also chances o
According to Automobile Association of Eastern India's committee member Alakh Sinha, the seat belts are extremely important especially for those driving a car that does not have SRS (supplemental restraint system) airbag that is designed to inflate on collision. Why does one avoid using seat belt in Patna? "Seat belts are used only when one zips off on wide roads as in metros. It's not needed in a place like Patna where the traffic moves at a snail's pace," said a 35-year-old businessman of Boring Road. The common refrain of the helmet-haters is that it is unfriendly. "It hides my identity and makes my hair untidy," a 21-year-old, who rides his bike to and from his classes in PU, said on the condition of anonymity. Some logic this!

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