Drive for helmet emoji to caution youth gains pace

Aims to spread awareness of road safety

March 01, 2020 01:20 am | Updated 01:20 am IST - Mumbai

A campaign to sign a petition on to make the helmet an emoji is drawing the attention of the youth within weeks of its launch. Started by the general insurance company, ICICI Lombard, the drive aims at getting the maximum number of people to sign the nationwide petition in the interest of road safety.

As the youth spend most of their time on smartphones, the initiative intends to help create the helmet emoji in order to increase conversations on the topic of safety and raise awareness of the need to wear helmets while riding two-wheelers. The campaign is live on all social media pages of the company, which are accessible through its official website.

Sanjeev Mantri, executive director of ICICI Lombard General Insurance, said once the petition secures a sufficient number of signatures, it will be assessed by Unicode, the world standard for text and emoji.

Mr. Mantri said, “For an emoji to be selected by Unicode, there has to be substantial evidence that a large number of people will like the emoji. There is also a standard size that the emoji has to conform to along with an evaluation of whether the emoji expresses what it intends to convey.”

The initiative aims to reach out to youths in a language they understand. Mr. Mantri said, “Many studies help us understand the way the virtual world is growing. Often, the first users of these digital innovations are the youth. As per a Google study, it is estimated that by 2021 we will have almost 600 million smartphone users in India, a big reason why we want to reach out to the youngsters through their mobile phones.”

Mr. Mantri said with the introduction of steeper fines against offenders, more riders have started wearing helmets in the country. He said this wasn’t the case till a few years ago when a large number of people were careless when it came to wearing helmets.

He said, “Though we can still see some people riding bikes with their helmet hanging on the handlebars, a considerable change is visible. More importantly, the government is also rooting for the cause by passing laws towards road safety.”

Mr. Mantri said the company is not expecting to make a sudden impact through the campaign, but it believes it is an important step towards ensuring the safety of two-wheeler riders. “All habit formations or behaviour changes take place by sustained reinforcement and talking to the person’s mind. If we get a good number of signatures, say a million, the emoji will be India’s contribution to the world,” he said.

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