The way to dusty death…

Posted: September 25, 2011 in superbikes
Tags: , , ,

Why did I choose the title of an Alistair Maclean bestseller? While that is about the world of Formula One and its fictional dirty underbelly, this post has nothing to with any of those subjects. But it does have to do with the perils of riding at high speeds. I thought the death of Mohd. Ayazuddin and his cousin Ajmal in the motorcycle mishap in Hyderabad recently would re-ignite the debate on safe riding and driving. You would have expected well known personalities, if not Md. Azharuddin himself, coming forward to promote that aspect. Strangely, there’s been deathly silence on the subject.

This was not just a case of an accident or a motorcycle hit by another bigger vehicle resulting in the deaths of two youngsters. This was a case of two rich kids riding a superbike at high speed without any protective gear, except a crash helmet. And a crash helmet, especially the kind made in India for city driving, isn’t much use if you’re doing speeds of 200 kmph or more. This one split open on impact. Strangely enough, apart from that they didn’t have any other protective gear, like jackets, boots, gloves etc. which are considered mandatory while riding such superbikes.

In my short stint with Car & Bike India, whatever I may or may not have learnt about vehicles, the one thing I did learn was the importance of protective gear while riding and driving. When the guys went out to test motorcycles I saw them carrying jackets, boots, gloves, helmets and other protective gear. When you’re testing a superbike or even a 250 cc bike that can touch high speeds, all it takes is a second’s indecision to cause a fatal crash. And no matter how much of an expert you are, you can’t predict when you’ll be confronted by a stray dog or even a bump on the road that could prove fatal.

While companies that sell such superbikes do give buyers the necessary instructions on safety gear, kids with a penchant for speed and thrills usually disregard them. Sadly, numerous parents don’t believe in cautioning their children on the dangers of riding and driving without protective gear. And these kids too think they are old enough to not take advice and have enough expertise on the subject. Unfortunately, it takes just one fatal second to change all that.

I remember driving in Mumbai around four years ago, and while on the Kemps Corner flyover, even as I kept to the left, two kids on two very powerful bikes, without helmets, suddenly roared past me from either side. One bike suddenly came up on my right and it was so close that it startled me enough to make me swerve to the left. In that split second, the guy on the left went past. I still wonder how I didn’t nudge him over the flyover and down onto the road below.

A sports journalist, who was given information about the Ayazuddin accident, told me some of the facts regarding the incident. He said that the two kids were freaking out on a bike registered in the name of a ‘shoe-wallah’, because Azharauddin could not make this Rs 15 lakh gift to his son official. Then the guys were drag racing on that smooth airport road wide enough for two trucks to pass easily. The money at stake was Rs One lakh and those who placed the bet, just sped away after the accident leaving the injured kids lying there. A passerby informed the police of the accident. Finally, they were riding a 1000cc+ Suzuki Hayabusa in jeans and T-shirt. At the hospital, Ayazuddin was brought in brain dead. The doctors also had to remove a liver and kept him alive by pumping his heart, although he was technically dead.

This is where automobile magazines can play such a huge part. They can carry out a sustained campaign on the perils of high speed riding and driving and the importance of wearing protective gear. Unfortunately, in this very market-oriented environment most of them believe that their sole objective is to inform readers of the new products in the market, do test drives, cover racing events around the globe and publish pictures of narcissistic youngsters who get themselves photographed doing daredevil stunts. I remember, on one occasion the Editor refused to carry a story in one of the issues, because the writer had been photographed doing stunts on a two-wheeler without the mandatory protective clothing and gear. However, that obviously isn’t enough, as the Ayazuddin incident has proved.

  1. Pradeep Menon says:

    Very true. It is really surprising that the media has not highlighted this issue more, especially considering the facts about this particular case that you mentioned in this post. Another thing that I thought of is this fact that after all these years, the authorities have still not been able to enforce the helmet rule in a city like Pune, which has the highest density of two-wheeler riders in India. Let us hope that good sense prevails soon.

  2. H V Kumar says:

    One can have no sympathy for these 2 rich brats who were knowledgeable enough to buy super bikes, but choose to disregard safety issues in their own irreverent and “I am-God” fashion. And if parents cannot control their childrens’ mind and physical movements, then that is their life too. I am happy that no one got injured in this accident. I am sure nothing will come out of it, life is so dispensable in India and Indians believe in theories of immortality & reincarnation. All I regret is that the father was not arrested although legally I guess the kid was neither a minor nor can a parent be held responsible for their kids’ behaviour.

    I am reminded of the mobike accident this weekend in Bombay where a drunken cop riding triple in his mobike in the dead of the night goes hits a STATIONARY parked truck, dies and they arrest the truck driver!!!

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