ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 37

That dangerous ride

~ Motorbike related accidents are on the rise warns Director of Traffic

By Dhananjani Silva

There has been a drastic increase in motorbike accidents, more than in all other road accidents during recent years. The main cause is lack of skill and competency of the riders as well as indiscipline on the roads, Director Traffic SSP Lucky Peiris said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

“People just buy a motorcycle and do not follow the basics of road safety when overtaking, when following vehicles, when entering into a main road from a by-lane, etc. They don’t follow the basics of riding – how to change gears, how to sit on a bicycle. It is reckless driving without following the road rules and negligence that have resulted in many fatal road accidents,” he said.

SSP Lucky Peiris

SSP Peiris also said that despite many requests to riders to wear helmets, there are still those who flout this law. “It is for their own safety that we enforce these helmet laws--if you meet with an accident your head may be injured and you could be bedridden for life or killed. However, when we insist that riders wear helmets, they think the police are harassing them. All motorbike riders and passengers regardless of age are required to wear helmets for their own safety, ” he said.

The latest addition to the problem arose with the import of Mopeds in the past five to six years. The general definition of the Moped is that it is a vehicle with cubic capacity of not more than 50 c.c, which is equipped with pedals. A vehicle with such an engine that does not have pedals is not a moped and it could be classified as a motorcycle. This would require registration, insurance, identification plates, revenue licence and helmeted rider and passenger under the Motor Traffic Act whereas the former would not require any of these. SSP Peiris said that other than what is defined in the Act, what is imported into the country is illegal and that the Police is taking stern action to curb this.

“These mopeds are becoming a menace to society--it is true that it is the poor man’s mode of transportation, but if proper rules and regulations are not applied there will be more deaths and injuries,” he added.

SSP Peiris said that there are instances where motorbikes are being imported and sold as Mopeds without registration, insurance, or licences. “Even the Registrar of Motor Vehicles has informed the importers not to encourage such transactions,” he added.

Director Accident Service of the National Hospital, Dr. Anil Jasinghe confirmed that motorbike accidents were on the rise. At any given time, in the Intensive Care Unit, the majority of beds,- i.e., 8 out of 10 beds are occupied by the victims of road accidents (children and adults), mostly due to motorbike accidents, he said. He also said that there are many instances where children under five years ride at the back of the motorcycle. The chances are high that the child may doze off and fall off the bike.

“We get a lot of patients, especially children, with burns due to the silencer as it is exposed. Therefore always put a cover and be conscious that it is hot. There are instances also where women get their sarees caught in the wheel,” he said.

Tips from Director Traffic
  • Be a competent rider before you buy a bike
  • Be a disciplined driver; respect other’s rights and treat other drivers in the way you would want to be treated.
  • Improve your driving skills and be alert all the time
  • Wear a helmet that has a strong strap with two rings to fasten it.
  • The correct clothing can help protect you against injury in case of a fall. Jackets and pants should cover your arms and legs completely. Wear a jacket even in warm weather-you can get a jacket that is designed to keep you cool. Leather offers the best protection but a heavy denim jacket does an adequate job too.
  • Boots or shoes should be sturdy and high enough to protect your ankles. Gloves are equally important as they protect your hands and give you a better hold on the hand grips and controls.
  • Eye and face protection; your eyes need protection from wind, dust, dirt, insects, debris and the small pebbles thrown up from vehicles. Effective eye or face protection must be free of scratches and be made of material that does not shatter.
  • Check the motorcycle: A motorcycle needs more frequent attention than a car. Brakes, clutch and throttle, cables, tyres, inflation, tread, lights (turn signals, headlight, trail and brake lights), horn, chain, mirrors, gas and oil should be checked before every ride.
  • Ride within your abilities
  • To properly control the motorcycle your body must be in the proper position. Sit close enough to the handlebars to reach them with your arms slightly bent. You should hold the handgrips firmly so that you would not lose your grip even if the motor bike bounces. Your knees should be firmly against the gas tank and feet firmly on the footpegs.
  • Visibility: Drivers of vehicles involved in accidents with motorbikes very often say they never saw the motorcycle. Motor cycle riders can help to make the motorbike more visible. One of the best ways is to keep the headlight on all the time. Studies show that during daylight hours a motorcycle with its headlights on becomes twice as noticeable to the oncoming drivers.
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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.