Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Helmets and two-wheelers

A road accident, involving a motorbike and a mere two people, how did it come to occupy a reasonably prominent place, front page, in a generally non-sensational paper like The Hindu? This was the question that led me to read the news item bylined “Staff Reporter” [1].
OK, this is not as ordinary as I initially thought. This was a case of a motorcycle hitting the side rails of a flyover and the riders falling of the elevated structure and landing on the ground below. Still not too sensational, would you not say?
OK, there is more. The driver of the vehicle sustained “severe head injuries and has been declared brain dead.” What happened to the pillion rider? “The woman fled while she was being taken to the hospital in an autorickshaw.”
Yet, there is some obvious important news buried in the report that does not come out. That is the pity.
The report does not say whether the driver of the two-wheeler and the pillion rider were wearing helmets. Now, how would this accident go into the records? Will the head injury of the driver be attributed to his not wearing a helmet? It should be. But, one may ask, then how did the pillion rider escape such consequences. One can be passé about it and mention that she was lucky to have fallen on the roof of a Chennai Corporation jeep. For me, that just will not do. The city cannot afford to keep its vehicles parked at strategic locations just so a wayward motorcyclist will fall of his/her two-wheeler and will be rescued.
The point I really want to make is this: the current instance deserves to be on the front page of the newspaper but only to show the likely outcomes of not wearing a helmet. The headline itself must have conveyed the message in a capsule and the report suitably tailored to drive the point home.
The Hindu failed to tap this opportunity to educate its readership.
Raghuram Ekambaram

1.    Biker, pillion fall off flyover, The Hindu, August 6, 2014, (Tiruchirapalli) {}

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