Rules on helmet use for children are vague

Besides, some parents are worried about the weight on the heads of their young ones.

January 20, 2016 07:45 am | Updated September 23, 2016 01:50 am IST - BENGALURU:BENGALURU:

KARNATAKA : Bengaluru : 19/01/2016 : Without Helmet   for pillion will be fined from tomarrow.  Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy

KARNATAKA : Bengaluru : 19/01/2016 : Without Helmet for pillion will be fined from tomarrow. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy

As the traffic police start levying fines on pillion riders not wearing helmets from Wednesday, they are likely to be letting off ‘violators’ below the age of 12. Why? Because even the government admits, there are no specific guidelines for children as far as ‘protective headgear’ is concerned.

The Motor Vehicles Act, to begin with, makes no exception. Section 129 of the Act ‘empowers the State government to prescribe protective headgear to be worn by the driver or pillion rider of motor cycles other than a person who is a Sikh wearing a turban and to make such exemption as the State government thinks fit’.

However, the Transport Department has clarified that there will be no such exemptions. Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy admitted that there are no specific guidelines for children. “We have left the implementation to the Home Department (the police). We will not insist on helmets for very small children. It is left to the police to decide an appropriate age,” he said.

The traffic police admitted that wearing helmets would ensure safety of children, but added that those aged 12 or less may not be penalised. “But it is the responsibility of parents to ensure the safety of the children. In case of any eventuality, the police have a provision to book them for rash and negligent driving,” a senior officer pointed out.

But parents have different reasons for not wanting their children to be wearing helmets.

B.N. Yogananda, who ferries six-year-old son to school every day, said they do not use the main roads. “I doubt there are helmets his size. Even if they are available, he will be uncomfortable,” he said, adding that the government should also focus on improving the quality of roads, which also contributes to accidents.

Perceptions about the effect of the weight of a helmet on a child’s head and neck are also coming in to play.

Nataraja S., who has a six-year-old daughter, said getting children to wear protective headgear makes perfect sense in terms of safety, but is worried about the weight she would have to carry on her head every time she travels in a two-wheeler.

A helmet dealer, Padmanabhan S., said helmets are available for children above the age of 12. They weigh around 850 grams and costing Rs. 800. “But it will take some getting used to for the children,” he pointed out.

‘No ISI certified helmets for children’

While everyone, including parents, agrees that infants are a vulnerable lot while travelling on two-wheelers, the idea of them wearing protective headgear is dismissed instantly.

To begin with, vendors point out that helmets made for very young children – mostly between the ages of five and eight – are not certified by the ISI.

In addition, parents point to the discomfort that it will cause, not just to the children, but also to the family using a two-wheeler to travel together. “I have a six-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter. How are we even going to travel comfortably if all of us wear helmets? I would rather take my younger child in an autorickshaw,” said J.G. Lokesh.

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