ISI-mark helmets: HC ruling welcome

ISI-mark helmets: HC ruling welcome

ISI-mark helmets: HC ruling welcome

The Karnataka High Court's recent order that two-wheeler riders who meet with accidents need to be paid insurance compensation only if they had worn ISI-certified helmets at the time of the accident is an affirmation of a major safety norm. It will hopefully boost the use of genuinely protective helmets. Rules that make the wearing of helmets mandatory have existed in the state and elsewhere for a long time, but they are not always followed. Even when they are followed, only the letter of the rule is honoured, not its spirit. Many riders wear flimsy helmets just to show that they have worn something and to avoid being stopped by the traffic police. Such helmets do not give any protection to the wearer. Some others wear helmets only when they think cops are around or when they see one at a distance. Most people have not internalised safety consciousness and are reluctant to take measures which are in the interest of their own safety.  

Police personnel who are expected to enforce the law are also seen riding without helmets. Political leaders ride or pillion-ride without helmets and the rule is mostly disregarded when motorcycle rallies are held. Since the rule is yet to sink into the minds of most people, orders like that from the high court might make the case for helmets stronger. The order needs to be given wide publicity and people, especially youngsters, who are more prone to violate the law, should be made to realise that just any helmet is not good enough. Wearing a helmet not certified by the ISI is not legal even now, but the consequences of not wearing other helmets are not widely known. Linking the helmet to insurance is good and the court's order should be made applicable in other states, too.    

The need for strict application of the rule becomes clear from the figures of death and injuries associated with two-wheeler accidents. India has the maximum number of road accident deaths in the world, and about 30% of the accidents involve two-wheelers. The situation is so serious that the United Nations undertook a study of such accidents. The UN's Motorcycle Helmet Study, released in 2016, says that "wearing an appropriate helmet improves the chances of survival by 42% and helps avoid 69% of injuries". The UN study calls for internationally harmonised rules for helmets and their effective enforcement. The need to wear helmets is underlined by the fact that motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in road accidents than those travelling in a car. The court ruling doubly underlines this.  

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