Helmet will soon be as important as cash to get petrol in the city.

The Road Safety Committee has recommended making helmet mandatory for two-wheeler riders to get petrol. Simply put, the petrol pump operators can decline to fill petrol if you drive in without a helmet.

Initially, instructions will be given to petrol pump operators. “The proposal will be enforced within two weeks. Till then awareness will be created for two-wheeler riders through the local media asking them to comply with the helmet rule,” District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed said. He said the success of a similar initiative in a district in Gujarat was the inspiration for the drive.

Mixed reactions

E.M. Mujeeb, an employee with the Irrigation department, welcomes the decision. “It is a very good move. I have never driven my bike without wearing helmet since I started driving in 1993. In fact, I would say that petrol should not be given unless both the rider and the pillion rider are wearing helmets,” he says.

On the other hand Aju N. Peter, an IT employee, doubts the effectiveness of the enforcement. “It may very well go the way of the rule prohibiting shops selling tobacco products from giving match boxes to light up cigarettes. Besides, police will do better to monitor the law and order scene rather than focusing on violations of rules regarding helmet, drunken driving, and seat belts,” he says.

Krishna, a law student, calls for logical and humanitarian implementation of the rule where discretion is the key. “Suppose someone forgets to wear the helmet while hurrying to get to the hospital on an emergency. The question is whether it is right to deny him petrol if he stops at a pump,” she asks.

Not legally standing

A senior official with the City Police admits that it would not be legally standing to deny someone fuel for his or her vehicle. But the order issued by District Collector in his capacity as District Magistrate for enforcing the Motor Vehicle Act can be justified, he said.

The City Police, however, is not sure about its role in implementing this rule, if it comes. “This will be done at the level of individual petrol pumps and police have little role out there,” said the police officer.

City Police tried something on these lines to promote car pooling and public transport, by trying to restrict entry of cars with only drivers to the South Overbridge. But the decision had to be repealed following public protest. That's probably why the Road Safety Committee decided to go for a trial run to gather public opinion before going all out to implement its decision.

Another note of dissent raised is that this move is not called for as almost all the motorcyclists in the city comply to the helmet rule, in comparison with neighbouring districts or even Thiruvananthapuram, where two-wheeler riders wearing helmets are a rare sight.

Keywords: road safety

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