Helmet rule assures pillion rider's safety

The government’s move to make helmets mandatory for pillion riders is a step that was long overdue. Many lives could have been saved had the rule been implemented earlier. But, as the saying goes, better late than never. In recent years, riding a two-wheeler has turned seriously dangerous given the nature of traffic, indisciplined driving and the abysmal quality of roads and infrastructure. According to official statistics, at least one individual dies due to a two-wheeler related road accident each day in Bengaluru city. Not a surprise when close to 40 lakh or 70 per cent of the vehicles on the roads are two-wheelers. At least one-fourth of those killed in two-wheeler accidents were on the pillion. That helmets are necessary is a no-brainer. The fact that a law was needed to be promulgated to implement something that should have been adopted voluntarily escapes logic. Two-wheeler riders should have had the sense to wear helmets without having to be prodded to do so. And, once the rider is wearing it, why was the pillion spared? If one is vulnerable, so is the other.

Promulgating the helmet rule has shockingly been resisted by large sections of two-wheeler riders on flimsy grounds. One common myth is that it can affect the quality of hair on the head, eventually leading to hair loss. The other common perception is that it can cause the spread of dandruff. The third is helmets are hot and stuffy especially in summer. Instead of figuring out ways to buy helmets that are comfortable and adhere to stipulated norms, many riders have preferred to do away with it. What use is a good, well-groomed hair when that individual is dead because of a two-wheeler accident? The antipathy towards helmets is so deep that political parties in the past sought to defer implementing it as a vote-getting tactic. With the new rule in place, already there are dissenting voices asking questions masque-rading as practical issues, like whose responsibility it is to carry the helmets – the rider or the pillion? Or, whether it is possible to store two helmets on a two-wheeler? These are merely excuses, if at all, to not follow the rule. After all, necessity is the mother of invention and there are enough innovative ways that will be found to sort out the problem, which in any case is minor.

The Supreme Court must be thanked for directing state governments to implement the rule. As in several other cases which should have been the prerogative of the executive, only a judicial diktat could bring in an element of sanity, besides security for the pillion rider.

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