The city traffic police’s special drive against motorists and pillion riders using substandard helmets without ISI certification has proven to be a damp squib even before it could take off.
Four days prior to the crackdown, which was scheduled to begin on February 1, the traffic police have withdrawn the initiative following a clarification from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). It appears that there is no way to ascertain if a helmet meets the prescribed standard safety requirements by a cursory visual inspection. A week ago, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) R. Hithendra had written to the BIS seeking clarification on helmets conforming to BIS standards, especially with regards to half-face helmets and imported ones. The bureau, however, in its reply stated that the conformance of helmets to Indian standards cannot be assessed through a visual examination, following which the police have decided to abort their drive.
“Traffic policemen on duty cannot decide the standard of helmets by a mere physical inspection and hence it is unfair to penalising bikers for wearing sub-standard helmets,” said Mr. Hithendra.
It’s not just motorcyclists who have got a reprieve; traffic police, too, are relieved as they were not looking forward to altercations with motorcyclists. “It would have been difficult for the policemen on duty to check the quality of the helmet. Each and every helmet we confiscate would had to be sent to the BIS office and we could not impose a fine until we got the results,” said a traffic constable. He added that it was possible to procure helmets with fake ISI mark.
Another traffic constable concurred, saying that it would be difficult for them to differentiate between a good fake, complete with an ISI mark, and the real one.
The traffic police had decided to launch the drive following a similar campaign, Operation Safe Drive, started by their counterparts in Mysuru. “We will advise riders to use standard protective headgear while riding two-wheelers as only those can save their heads and lives at the time of accidents,” Mr. Hithendra said.