Heads turn when young Hamant, Jiya and Madalasa bicycle to school, helmets firmly in place.
At a time when youngsters on motorcycles and scooters use any excuse to avoid helmets, from “it spoils my hair” to “it feels hot”, these three students of
Tinsukia schools have set an example of safe driving by wearing helmets even as they bicycle to school.
Asked if he was not afraid of being laughed at, Hamant Rajak, 15, a class IX student of Don Bosco High School, Doomdooma, said, “I know no one wears a helmet while riding a bicycle. But I and my five-year-old sister Jiya do while riding my bicycle to our school, which is about 3km from our house, because I want to send a message to people that it is safe to do so. My grandfather, father, uncle and mother always wear a helmet. They told me a time will come when entire Tinsukia will be inspired by me.”
Madalasa Vairaginee, a class IX student of Learners’ High School here, who cycles 1.2km to school everyday, said, “My parents and headmistress Tanushree Bhattacharjee were most encouraging about my decision to wear a helmet. It is not for show. Too many road accidents take place everyday. Many lives can be saved if people wear helmets. But people shouldn’t wear cheap helmets just to avoid being fined. They should wear good quality ones and strap it on safely.”
Jiya, a class I student of Don Bosco and youngest of the three, said, “I love wearing a helmet and feel secure doing so while riding on roads. I don’t understand why so many grown-ups don’t wear them. I will always wear it.”
Tinsukia schools, which have lost dozens of students to road accidents in recent years, have been making a conscious effort to ingrain the need for safe driving among their students.
Sanjay K. Gupta, managing director of Learners’ Educational Institutions, told The Telegraph on Wednesday, “These schoolchildren are an inspiration.”
“We have banned our students from riding motorised two-wheelers (bikes and scooters). We have also circulated a notice to teachers and students, asking them not to enter the school campus without putting on helmets and carrying valid documents of vehicles, including driving licences. We regularly send messages to parents of all our 630 students on the dangers of violating traffic rules, specifically not wearing helmets. Even in our school assembly, we often inform students about traffic rules. Last fortnight, we observed Road Safety Week in school,” he added.
Parents have appreciated the efforts of schools and the three students in setting an example for society.
Firdaush Ahmad, the father of a class VIII student at Learners’ High School, said, “It is great to see the next generation showing responsibility. This will inspire others.”
When informed about the efforts, Doomdooma Municipal Board chairman Dulu Aarandhara and vice-chairman Kapil Pandey, Tinsukia superintendent of police Shiladitya Chetia, deputy commissioner Oinam Saran Kumar Singh, traffic inspector Hiranya Bora admired the children and said that they make one believe that the state and the country will remain safe in the future generation’s hands.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, which mandates steep fines for traffic violations, has been enforced across the state. Under the new rules, a motorised two-wheeler driver must pay a fine of Rs 1,000 for not wearing helmet. A helmet-less pillion rider will also be fined. A first-time offender’s licence can be suspended for three months and if the transport department deems fit, he/she can also be sent for fresh training for a driving licence.