Cheap helmets provide little protection to riders

City Safety

Two wheeler riders in the city use cheap helmets for two reasons: because it’s compulsory and to escape from fine.

Bengaluru:Thousands of two-wheeler riders in the city use low-quality helmets to escape being penalized by traffic police. These helmets, priced between Rs 100 and Rs 150,do not havethe ISI mark.

“Motorcyclistswear helmets…to escape from police and not pay fine if caught. Police and the transport department should raid shops that sell poor-quality helmets. Sixty percent of head injuries (caused) during accidents are because of not wearing helmets or not wearing quality helmets,” Prof.M.N.Sreehari, an adviser to the Karnataka government on traffic, transportation and infrastructure, informed The Observer.

According to Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, every person, rider and the pillion rider on a motorcycle should wear protective headgear certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

Most helmets worn by motorcyclists in the city are unsafe because they do not protect the head. The price of a quality helmet, with the ISI mark, ranges between Rs650 and Rs2000. 

Helmets sold at various places across the city do not mention mass and size, and have no ISI mark. IS 4151:2015, a new BIS standard, is mandatory for helmets since January 2019.A helmet should bear, apart from the ISI mark, information about its manufacturer, mass and size.

The Observer found duplicate helmets of brands like Windsor, Wrangler andSafari being sold at Koramangala, Shivajinagar, and on pavements across the city.

Low-quality helmetsare light, and made from thin metal or hard plastic. They cover onlythe upper half of the head. No extra padding is provided on the inner side.The strap is of poor quality and does not provide safety in case of accidents.

Most pillion riders use these helmets.

Sreehari noted: “The pillion rider is more at risk as he or she does not know what is happening while the vehicle is moving. So the pillion rider should also avoid wearing this low-quality helmet as it is unsafe.”

Helmet sellers agree the low-priced helmets are unsafe. “A helmet which covers the head of a person fully is safe to use. They cost around Rs750. The ones priced at Rs 120-Rs150 are unsafe,” said Syed Ameen, a helmet shop owner near Russell Market.

Many motorcyclists concede they wear these helmets to escape paying fines.  “These helmets are cheap and we wear them because it is compulsory. Police do not stop us if we wear this helmet; but if we do not wear a helmet, we have to pay a fine,” Srinivasa R, a vegetable seller at Russell Market, said.

ThimmarayappaC.M., a constable at the Shivajinagar police station, said: “From January 2019 to July 31, 2019, 5,790 cases have been filed in the city against motorists for not wearing helmets. Motorcyclists have to pay a fine of Rs 100 if they are caught not wearing helmets.”

Most delivery persons in the city use low-quality, unsafe helmets.WhenThe Observerasked them about it, almost everyone had the same answer:“We wear helmets because they are compulsory. If we do not wear helmets, we will be fined. Until the government implements a rule saying that these helmets should not be worn, we will wear them.”

In 2018, the ISI helmet rule was withdrawn in Karnataka on the ground that traffic police cannot identify the quality of a helmet on visualexamination.

Sreehari proposed a solution to this: Motorcyle companies should provide helmets when the vehicle is sold.Also, people should know the importance of wearing a protective helmet. “Everything begins at home. Parentsshouldask their children to wear protective helmets.If they don’t, they should not give them vehicles.”

In a press release on August 5,the Two Wheeler Helmet Manufacturers’ Association, warned its members that sales of non-ISIhelmets will be a criminal offence, inviting arrest without warrant, a two-year jail term and a fine.


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