Mangaluru: Helmet a Must for Pillion Riders- But Govt to take it Easy on Offenders for a Month

Mangaluru: Even though the compulsory use of helmet by pillion-riders while on a two-wheeler comes into effect today (12 January 2016) as per Supreme Court orders, but the government and traffic law enforcement officials will take it easy on those pillion riders who do not wear helmet by not imposing fine on them for a month or so, till everyone is aware of the new helmet rule in Karnataka State. As of 12 January both the rider and the pillion rider of the two- wheelers have to wear helmets in the state. Although the rule has been implemented in Karnataka, only a few pillion riders were seen wearing helmets in Mangaluru, while many others didn’t bothered about the new rule or probably were not aware of the new rule.

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It is learnt that during the grace period of month or so from today onwards, both the police and the Transport Departments will create awareness on the need to wear helmets. Both the departments are yet to come to a conclusion as to when to slap fines on those not wearing helmets-until then two-wheeler riders have enough time to shop around for their favourite brand of helmets at a bargain price. During the awareness days, RTO and police will distribute pamphlets highlighting the importance of wearing helmets while riding. Sources reveal that taking advantage of this new helmet rule, shop owners dealing with helmets have already jacked up their prices to make few extra bucks.

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Pillion riders below the age of 12 are exempted from wearing helmets- the reason behind this, small size helmets to fit this age category are not available in the market at present. In the meantime, the Transport Department officials are working to find a way that helmets are manufactured to cater to the needs of these underage children. According to sources, the State is in need of nearly 70 lakh helmets, and the appropriate sizes to meet the demand is very low.

Newly appointed Mangaluru Police Commissioner S Chandra Shekhar speaking to media persons has said that initially the traffic police will create awareness among two-wheeler riders/pillion riders about the importance of the new helmet rule and it’s safety for a month or so and later enforce the law strictly, and impose fines on those who break the law. DK Police Superintendent SD Sharanappa has also said that at the moment the police will take it easy on those two-wheeler riders who do not wear helmets, since many have still to get used to the new helmet rule, especially those riders in rural areas. ” We will concentrate more on this new helmet rule through awareness programmes in the City, and later on educate riders in the rural areas and enforce the new rule” had said Sharanappa.

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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 ? Speaking to mangalorean.com at a two-wheeler parking lot of a mall, this is what they had to say :

Susan M, a employee at a IT company said, ” This rule will create lot of inconveniences- when I decide to give a ride to my colleague, how am I suppose to provide her an helmet. My scooter has a space to store only one helmet, if I keep the other helmet unlocked chances are that it may get stolen. I am really not happy with this new helmet rule”. Raghava, a courier employee said, ” The government and our city corporation should fix the bad roads, which are the main cause for two-wheeler accidents. There are speed breakers, but without any caution signs, and many a times two-wheeler riders lose balance, fall and get seriously hurt. Police should strictly enforce speed laws-many riders get into accidents due to speeding. I think this rule of wearing helmet for pillion riders is senseless”. Rahul Pinto, a bank employee said, ” I am least worried about this new rule. I always ride alone, wear my helmet all the time, and very rare that I have a pillion rider. I think this is a good rule for the safety of those traveling on a two-wheeler. If someone wants to ride with me, I would insist he or she wears a helmet”.

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Narasimha, a social activist said, ” This new rule is money making tactics between the politicians, helmet manufacturers and police. More new traffic rules, more corrupt will become the police. We have seen many traffic rules implemented in the past, but how many of them are been strictly enforced. Only the common person will be nailed by the cops, while the rich and influential folks will get away without any penalty. All I can say is that the new rule will be effective only if it is followed strictly and that the cops stay away from accepting bribes from the motorists”.

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.

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In conclusion, all I can say is that the Supreme Court must be thanked for directing state governments to implement the new helmet 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.

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