Mangaluru: With the word being spread that the city traffic cops have been cracking down on those violating the new helmet rule which was strictly enforced on 1 February, many two-wheeler riders along with the pillion-riders are seen wearing helmets, except for a few who still ignored the rule were stopped by the cops on their second day of traffic check on helmet rule violators. On the first day ie 1 February, police booked 2,642 cases in Mangaluru and other parts of DK, raking Rs 2.65 lakh in fines, while in Udupi 715 cases were booked. Now that the police are strictly enforcing the helmet rule and cracking down on the violators imposing fines on them, the two-wheeler riders have been shopping around for their favourite brand/color helmets.
A few helmet sellers in the city were found busy selling helmets, with the price ranging between Rs. 500-750, some helmets costing over Rs 1000 also. With residents of the city having no choice, but to buy the helmets, most of the shops were crowded. And as far as the street vendors who have come down from North India, who also have been doing a good business, but are not happy with the sales that they expected. Two-wheeler riders had taken it easy for the last few weeks, when the police had given them time to buy helmets before they start fining the violators. “In the interest of people, we had giving them some time to buy helmets. It was not be fair to start fining them when the rule kicked off on 12 January, because most of them were yet to buy helmets owing to short-supply. Given them enough time, we decided to enforce the rule strictly on February 1. As per the norms, the rider and the pillion should wear a helmet while riding.” had said Superintendent of Police Dr Sharanappa while addressing the media.
One traffic inspector speaking to mangalorean.com rubbished rumours that half-helmet (a helmet that covers only the head) is meant for women. We strictly advise people to buy helmets with the ISI mark on them, and make sure the helmet protects your entire face. Wearing construction site helmets (hard hats) are not permitted. In cities and town limits, the police can keep a vigil … but it is too hard in rural areas owing to limited police staff. However, we will try our best to implement the rule across the district. But the motorists/two-wheeler riders should strictly follow the rules to avoid paying hefty fines and other consequences”.
With helmets having become compulsory, pillion riders are making a dash for the protective headgear. Predictably, manufacturers and dealers are eyeing a huge windfall in the coming days. One helmet dealer in town who is in the wholesale business for over two decades, has already placed orders for nearly 10,000 helmets during the last couple of days “We procure helmets from places like Faridabad, Haryana, and supply them to nearby districts including districts like Udupi . As the requirement in these districts has been limited so far, they have been dependent on dealers from Bengaluru for procurement of the headgear,” . With traffic cops set to impose a penalty on violators since 1 February, many other helmet traders are also doing brisk business. Industry analysts and dealers point out that Karnataka buys about 25,000 helmets every day and most of the supply comes from Faridabad and New Delhi. Most of the well-known brands are manufactured in these cities.
Sources reveal that at present, the state has around 1.14 crore two-wheelers, with Bengaluru accounting for 41 lakh. Even if 60% of the vehicles have pillion riders, roughly 68-70 lakh helmets will be required.”While some of the manufacturers in Faridabad have the capacity to produce helmets on a large scale (upto 15,000 per day), it will take at least 7-10 days for the supply to arrive because of transportation and other factors. If the demand for helmets shoots up, there could be a shortage in the market. Right now, the sales are seeing a gradual rise,” said yet another helmet dealer in the city.
However, some traders are hesitant to stock up on the headgear as they want to follow a wait-and watch policy . They want to see how effectively the helmet rule is implemented. A helmet dealer from Bunder area said the market could see a temporary shortage of helmets if there is strict implementation of the rule.”But helmet prices may not rise. As the ISI-mark helmets come with the MRP printed on them, it is tough to jack up the rates. Also since many youngsters and college students are buying helmets online, our sales are not good as we expected” he added.
A college lecturer buying two ISI-marked helmets (one for his wife and another for his 11-year old daughter ) at a store on Balmatta Road speaking to Mangalorean.com said, ” It make’s sense only when the rule is implemented for good. Law enforcement officers should not be corrupt. Traffic police and transport department officials should make sure that commuters use ISI-marked helmets, which ensure riders’ safety. Otherwise, low-quality headgear will flood the market defeating the whole idea of protecting one’s head. We have seen many new traffic rules in the past years and months, but many a times they are not strictly enforced by the cops or they let the offenders go by collecting bribes. This needs to be stopped, only then this new helmet rule will be effective for the safety of the riders”.
In the meantime, while many two-wheeler riders have been busy purchasing their new helmets at various shops and street vendors, Police Sub Inspector Nagini from Bunder Traffic Police Department, along with her colleagues (constables)- Raghavendra, Dharma and Racha Reddy was busy cracking down on helmet rule violators near Bejai KSRTC bus-stand. Speaking to Mangalorean.com, PSI Nagini said, ” Since last night and this morning I have booked over 125 cases, of which two are second time violators. These second-time violators who were booked on 1 February are college students, and I can’t believe that educated persons are breaking the rule intentionally- now they have to pay Rs 300 each. First-time violators would be fined Rs.100 and the second-time they have to pay Rs. 300. If they violate for the third time, then their driving license would be likely cancelled. Many rule violators when caught, come up to me with different kind of excuses, which I simply ignore and straight away issue them a fine receipt/ticket. It’s about time that two-wheelers follow the rules for their safety and safety of others. Period”.
With the introduction of this new helmet rule, some safety conscious two-wheeler riders are happy with it, while majority of two-wheeler riders are giving excuses on flimsy grounds- some saying that constant wearing of helmet may affect the the quality of hair on the head, eventually leading to hair loss. Others say that wearing helmets can cause dandruff, while few others complain that helmets especially during summer season are hot and stuffy, resulting in sweating. What use is a good, well-groomed hair when that individual is dead because of a two-wheeler accident ?
As per statements in a leading daily newspaper, 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 masquerading 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.
In conclusion, all I can say is that the Supreme Court must be thanked for directing state governments to implement the newhelmet rule. Without giving any silly excuses, both the riders and pillion riders should wear helmets for their safety. Life is more precious, so obeying the traffic laws will make you live longer when you are on the road.