LAHORE: The Lahore traffic police in its awareness campaign has started urging the motorbike riders to wear sports helmets instead of the normal helmets with simple straps. Sources in the City Traffic Police Lahore said total number of bikes plying on the city roads exceeds 2.7 million but majority of bike riders do not wear helmets. 

“According to traffic rules it is mandatory for motorbike riders and co-riders but majority of them do not use helmets. First we will issue penalty tickets (challans) to the riders driving motorbikes without helmet. In the next phase we will start issuing penalty ticket to the co-riders as well,” sources said. On a query about the image used in the awareness campaign the sources said it was a mistake. “It is just symbolic and it is not binding on the bike riders to wear sports helmet,” the sources in CTPL said.

When The Nation contacted Chief Traffic Police Officer Tayyab Hafeez Cheema for official version in this regard he was not available for comment. His phone was attended by his junior colleague who refused to comment. The spokesperson said that only CTPO can answer media queries. Meanwhile, imagine 2.7 millionbike riders buying sports helmet on the advice of CTPL. The penalty of not wearing a helmet is Rs 200. About 150 to 200 penalty tickets (challans) are issued every day. Interestingly the helmets provided by CTPL to the traffic wardens are simple helmets with straps. None of the traffic wardens wear sports helmets.

“Sports helmets do not suit our city traffic congestion. They are meant for races only. With these helmets you cannot look to your left or right and you cannot hear anything. Therefore, it is better that simple helmets are used instead of sports helmets,” Talat Butt a vintage bike rider said. And last but not the least is the issue of helmets quality. The Motorway Police stresses on wearing quality helmets. “The quality of a motorcycle helmet is crucial to its ability to prevent head injuries if a crash occurs,” DIG Motorway Police Mirza Faran Baig said. But when this was discussed with CTPL official he said it was not the concern of their department. The price of Chinese and local made helmet ranges between Rs 550 and Rs 700. The price of a quality helmet either Chinese made or imported from some other country ranges between Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000. 

In the past too there have been such campaigns but all failed. “Such campaigns are started just to promote business of helmet manufacturers or importers,” said a public school teacher Saqib Amin. “The campaign is good but the direction is not right,” he was of the view.