Hair is more precious than life, at least for the new- age girls on trendy two-wheelers.
Hardly any young girl on two-wheelers can be seen wearing helmet, as they fear the protective headgear can damage the scalp and hair. Worse, traffic police can seldom be seen penalising girls without helmets.
A few such riders without helmets told The Telegraph that they fear hair damage. “The hair gets sticky due to sweat, especially in the summer. This forces us to shampoo our hair everyday, which may damage the hair also. And, if we do not shampoo the sweaty hair then also there’s a possibility of damaged hair. Hence, I prefer avoiding wearing helmet,” said Pushpanjali (name changed), a resident of Gardanibagh.
These helmet-less female riders seem to have the support of hair experts. “The inner part of the helmet has sponge and there is no ventilation as well. Thus, when a person wears the helmet for long then the sweat reaches the scalp and the root of the hair. Continuous exposure of the scalp and roots of the hair to sweat can cause infection, dandruff and disease like psoriasis as well,” said Alka Ranjan, beautician-cum-dietician, VLCC.
But does it mean that girls should continue not wearing helmets so as to save their hair? No, it is only the inner material of the helmet that requires being hygienic for the hair. “Helmets are extremely necessary for one’s safety. There are a few new helmets in the market in which the inner lining can be changed. Otherwise, people can use muslin cloth on the head and then put the helmet over it, which would be healthy for the hair. However, the muslin cloth is also required to be washed frequently and to be dried in sunlight,” said Alka.
Some other riders admitted that helmet does not look fashionable. “Wearing a helmet looks so traditional. Riding a sleek two-wheeler is considered to be fashionable but what good it does when the whole face is covered with helmet and no one can recognise it?” asked Visakha (name changed) of Kadamkuan.
Patna superintendent of police (traffic) Rajiv Mishra admitted that the female riders are being shown some leniency. “I admit that we are not very strict on the female riders. They are mostly youngsters — school and college girls. They are well educated and aware of the fact that helmet is a matter of personal safety only. Our hands are also tied at times in stopping these girls on the streets as there is a crunch of women constables with us,” said Mishra.
With the traffic police going soft on the “softer sex”, some people are alleging them to be biased.
“There is no logic behind accepting any gender from wearing a helmet. Any accident and injuries doesn’t make any difference in the gender. Besides, the Motor Vehicles Act does not have any provision for showing a lenient attitude to female motorists. How can the traffic police say that they have a dearth of female cops when I see women constables on every second traffic junction in the city?” said Ravi Parmar, a lawyer.
On the other hand, some girls claim that there are more serious issue on the roads than to target girls.
“We should find ways to fine rash drivers who cause accidents more than those who don’t wear helmets. There are so many lehariya riders, who are extremely dangerous for others on the streets. The police now claim to have CCTV cameras on the streets so why aren’t they detaining the lehariya riders using those?” said Riya Sharma of Boring Road.