Even as the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) continues to take action against motorcycle riders driving around wearing helmets without the ISI mark, the department has its hands tied when it comes to stopping the sale of such helmets.
The Motor Vehicle Act limits the jurisdiction of MVD mainly to vehicles, those riding it and the vehicle owners.
“If a two-wheeler driver is found using a helmet without ISI mark awarded by the Bureau of Indian Standards, then it is an offence tantamount to driving without a helmet and can be proceeded against accordingly. But the seller invariably gets away as the Act does not give us the power to inspect the quality of accessories like helmet sold through shops or even by roadside vendors,” a senior MVD official told The Hindu.
While standard helmets with ISI marks come at a price tag of Rs. 500 or more, the cheaper ones without the standard specification can be had for a couple of hundred rupees. Most of these inferior quality helmets, which were available across the district, came from places like Delhi and Ludhiana, the officer said.
A helmet to be awarded ISI mark will have to satisfy a slew of conditions such as its shell should have the strength as per the specifications, there should be three layers of padding between the head of the rider and the shell, and it should have passed the test of strength by the Automotive Research Association of India. “Only on satisfying these conditions will the product be awarded ISI mark. And the mark will be embossed on a part of the shell of the helmet and not just a label or sticker pasted to the helmet, the official said.
Inferior quality helmets are not widespread in city limits. But it is not the case in the suburbs where the use of helmets meant for construction sites are often used by two-wheeler drivers. “Helmets for various purposes are available in the market. A helmet to be used by an automobile user should comply with certain standards and it cannot be replaced with one meant for a construction worker or a cyclist. In such an event we will have to treat it as an incident of helmetless driving,” the officer said.
Earlier, the MVD used to fine Rs. 100 in such cases. But with the strict implementation of traffic rules, the penalty could lead to suspension of driving licence for a few months if the vehicle was also overspeeding, the officer said.