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Trip to Amazing Chennai 2010: Part 5 – Crazy Traffic in Chennai Streets

chennai street bike

(This is one of the shots that I took in Chennai – a priest cutting in and out of traffic wearing no helmet. Just a simple dhoti covering his bare skin and for the feet, rather worn-out sandals – I wonder how serious his injuries are going to be if he falls down. I have seen ladies with saree with fast bikes and no helmets as well. Higher-resolution shot here)

Read the trip to Chennai so far:-

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Riding without a helmet is nothing new even in Malaysia but these risk-takers usually can be found in some residential areas where they would be riding in the safety of their neighbourhood to ride a bike without helmets. There is very little chance of finding the police on patrol on the neighbourhood and even if there is one, it is easy to escape. There were talks about enforcing the law on these riders without a helmet but nothing was done in the end.

Brother Durai records down another accident that happened right in front of him when he was travelling in India – another normal situation – between a bus and a car.

In Chennai, people without a helmet can be found on major streets and there is a funnier rule deployed these days – the rider needs to wear a helmet but the pillion rider need not. So, at end of office hours in Chennai, you will find riders with many types of helmets (blacked out full-face helmet seems to be the fashion these days) but their pillion rider, often their wife or girlfriends, just sit on the back without any helmet.

Some of the ladies would be sitting with their legs on the side (because they are wearing sarees) and they will hold on their dear life by holding onto the bike’s rail or one hand holding the rider at the front.

At the traffic lights, when the light turns green, you will have a shock seeing how some of these riders speed off, sometimes with a close call with another motorist without any care on the person at the back. Strange indeed because if a case of an accident, the pillion rider stands to incur more serious injuries compared to the rider. But this fact is simply ignored in Chennai (and perhaps the whole of India) by people who ride bikes and the Government who enforce the traffic laws.

I had my reservations in Chennai where our Auto driver was speeding in and out of traffic but at least we had some protective cover (but certainly meant nothing if meet with an accident with a car or truck). When we decided to go out for lunch, I opted to take the car instead of taking my chance on the bike (but even so, I would have insisted on a proper helmet). I have seen a number of times where head injuries (even those incurred with minor injuries) have a long term effect.

To be continued…

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