In a shocking revelation, at least 25 teenagers are killed in road accidents everyday -- or an average of one each hour -- in India, coming to a whopping total of around 9,400 annually, an NGO said here on Friday.
Citing the stunning figures for 2017, the NGO Synergie, said the majority of these accidents involved two-wheelers like scooters, motorcycles or mopeds and largely due to helmetless driving or pillion riding by the youngsters.
The reason is kids, mostly teenagers, tend to overspeed, indulge in rash driving and drive without helmets.
As per the 2017 data, the total injuries due to helmetless driving were 35,975 and 36,687 deaths for all categories of two-wheeler driving.
The revelations came at a workshop which included Synergie, Global Road Safety Partnership, hosted by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, attended by around two dozen school and college principals and others.
Expressing concerns over the large number of juvenile deaths due to helmetless driving, including pillion riding, experts said it was aggravated by the dark world of motorbike stunts and illegal street races.
"Education, awareness, and enforcement is the answer to ensure that kids and adults wear helmets while driving on the roads," urged Maharashtra's Joint Transport Commissioner Jitendra Patil.
"If a kid is injured or something worse happens, it affects the entire family... Imagine the scenario in the age of 'nuclear' families with a single child," pointed out Synergie's Founder Indrani Maitra, who considers it a psychological issue.
State President of Shikshak Bharti Subhash More said education is the key to address these issues, the importance of using helmets for safe driving from a young age and this must reach to each and every school in the country.
Drawing on his own experiences in such cases, Traffic Police Inspector (Education) S. Paradkar said that "road accidents involving children are very difficult to handle... the sad scene, the condition of the parents... difficult to describe in words".
In this regard, he mentioned that the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill has been passed by the union cabinet on June 24 which drastically hikes penalties and fines for traffic violations.
Under the proposed new laws covering various aspects of road safety, helmetless driving would attract a fine of Rs 1,000 besides suspension of the offender's driving license for three months.
As a follow-up action to the workshop, Maitra said Synergie will organise road safety awareness programs in Mumbai schools, counsel parents whose teenaged children go around riding pillion on two-wheelers without helmet and related issues.