Female passengers frequently injured in bike accidents

15 to 20 women are treated every day across three public hospitals in Karachi due to bike accidents

Amir Khan May 19, 2024
waiting for calamity: A woman rides on a motorcycle unaware of her dress hanging close to chain of the bike, which can cause a fatal accident. photo: Jalal Qureshi/express


Shama, a mother from Mehmoodabad, recalled with horror the devastating day when a casual bike ride to a relative’s house in Akhtar Colony resulted in a tragic road accident. Donning her newly purchased extra-long abaya, Shama had set off with her husband on their motorbike with her little child clinging at her arm. Little did Shama know that her husband’s negligence in installing a simple motorbike chain covering, would cost her bags of tears and blood.

“Just when we reached Akhtar Colony, my abaya got entangled in the back wheel. All of a sudden we started panicking but before we could do anything, the tension in the cloth pulled me off the speeding motorbike, and I alongside my child plummeted onto the road, hitting out heads. Since I was balancing with my hand on my husband’s back, he too toppled over. I sustained deep wounds on my head, my husband fractured his right leg, and my child was also bleeding from several areas. After this incident, I was under treatment for two months, while my husband remained in bed for a month and a half,” revealed Shama, who encouraged other women to take the necessary precautionary measures in order to evade such accidents.

Read: Female bikers becoming a common sight

Road accidents involving motorbikes are fairly common in Karachi, where the combination of underage bikers, unregistered transport providers and unfit motorbikes on the roads has significantly compromised road safety. Now, another major instigator of motorbike accidents that has come to the fore, is the negligence of bike owners in installing coverings on the tyres and chains, which frequently get entangled with the hanging ends of the female passenger's outer garment, resulting in deadly accidents, which injure both the woman and the bike rider.

For instance, 40-year-old Hina, a receptionist at a private hospital, was traveling with her brother on their motorbike to work, when she encountered a similar tragedy. “Although I try my best to keep my outer garment from touching the tyre of the motorbike, my brother forgot to reinstall his broken chain covering that day. All of a sudden, my chador got caught in the chain of the bike, and both my brother and I toppled over. Thankfully, I was not seriously hurt but my brother injured his face and arms,” shared Hina, who after her recovery ensures that the chain covering is in place to avoid the same accident again.

Read: Women on motorbikes

“It is often seen on the roads of Karachi that female passengers do not sit properly on motorcycles since they are seated behind the male members with their feet on the lateral sides. Moreover, their outer garments are hanging below their feet due to which they get stuck in the chain or rear wheel pockets, causing accidents. And most importantly, bike owners do not install chain or wheel coverings in the hopes of saving Rs1000 to Rs2500. If these covers are installed and women sit carefully, they can be safe from such tragic accidents,” elucidated Laeeq Ali, a motorcycle mechanic.

According to data received by the Express Tribune from trauma centres across three major state-owned hospitals in the city, namely Civil Hospital, Jinnah Hospital and Abbassi Shaheed Hospital, at least 15 to 20 women are injured every day in Karachi due to bike accidents involving an entangled outer garment like a dupatta, chador or abaya, which gets stuck in the back wheel or chain of the motorbike.

“Firstly, the sitting posture of female passengers is incorrect, due to which they can easily slip and fall off the bike. Secondly, a corner of their chador or abaya gets stuck in the uncovered rear wheel or chain,” said Dr Sabir Memon, Executive Director of the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Trauma and Emergency Centre.

“Due to such accidents, women and other passengers may suffer from head, facial, bone, spinal or limb injuries which may result in temporary or permanent disability. God forbid, if the speed of the motorcycle is high, then the woman and motorcyclist may end up with complex head injuries, which may cost them their lives,” warned Dr Saad Hassan, orthopaedic surgeon.

“Sometimes, when a hanging garment gets stuck in the motorbike, it instantly coils around the neck of the woman, which can choke her in no time,” added Dr Nausheen, in-charge at the Jinnah Hospital's accident department.

“Therefore, we regularly advise motorcyclists to install chain and tyre coverings and also instruct female passengers to fix their outer garments while sitting on motorbikes,” claimed an official from the Karachi Traffic Police.


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