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Thursday, July 2, 2015

helmet rule implemented in Chennai ...... but !!

From 1st July 2015 - Two-wheeler riders wearing helmets has become compulsory in Tamil Nadu with police booking as many as 1,008 cases in Chennai city  besides continuing with their propaganda efforts to create awareness on the need for the headgear. According to Chennai City Traffic police, 452 vehicles were detained.  It is stated that records pertaining to 556 other two-wheelers have been detained for not wearing helmets. Similar action has been taken in other cities of the state as well. The police are meanwhile continuing with their campaign efforts to create better awareness on the need for two-wheeler riders to wear helmets to prevent serious injuries in case of mishaps.

The first political salvo came from GK Vasan of Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar) urging  the Tamil Nadu government to extend the deadline for compulsory helmet rule. In a statement he  said the government should take steps to monitor the price of helmets, which has shot up suddenly, and to make the headgear affordable for the common people.

While admitting that the prices have sky-rocketed,  it must be noted and understood that the Govt has not brought this rule on its own but on the directive of the High Court.  There exists penal provision in MV rules for violation.  Justice N. Kirubakaran had in a recent judgment of a road accident victim said – ‘it is a common sight, on roads of every city, that people ride two-wheelers without helmets’ – called for strict implementation of helmet rule besides enhancing the compensation to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 12.23 lakh awarded by the tribunal.Citing the “case on hand” and its consequences, the judge directed the state government to inform the same to the public through media on or before June 18, the judge said, “If this direction is not complied with, the home secretary and DGP shall appear before this court on June 19”.  The Hon’ble Judge also said that impounded documents  shouldbe released only on production of new ISI certified helmet with purchase receipt.

On sky-rocketing prices, the public themselves are to be blamed.  Today’s paper quotes a software employee as stating that he was so caught up with routine that he forgot to buy helmets for self and wife till it was too late.  On the deadline day, he rushed to GP road – saw the shops crowded [people will not have the patience to stand in a crowd] – logged on to a portal and ordered two.  When there is artificial demand, why will not the prices rise ? – what prevented people from buying helmets when they bought their vehicles or at least when the newspapers wrote about the judgment of the Court ??

It is stated that Online portals now promise delivery only after 10 days time, meantime, makeshift shops selling unbranded helmets have mushroomed and some will be happy in buying a cheap one, just to escape the Police enforcement.  

TOI quotes the City Police Commissioner as stating the Chennai’s response to be overwhelming – on the first day of High Court enforced helmet rule.  He is quoted as saying that almost 95% of the city riders wore a helmet, while a slightly lower % abided by the rule in suburbs.  There, however, were some violators, and most of them paid for not falling in line.

According to some statistics -  227 two wheeler riders have died in two wheeler accidents in the city this year, of this 223 reportedly were not wearing helmets.  The hassles involved in getting back the seized vehicle and documents seem to have worked. “If it was just a fine, I wouldn't have bothered much. But losing your licence, dealing with the police and the court is just too much of a pain. A traffic police officer said. “Each SI will have two sets of receipts -one for seizing documents and one when the vehicle is detained. The violator will get the respective receipt and the items seized will be kept at the nearest police station.The court will then decide the fine and punishment,“ he said.

When it comes to pillion riders and children, police say they are taking it step by step. “We are now focusing on the rider. Those riding pillion are being warned and action will soon follow” said an Officer.  Here is a photo taken in Mount Road, Teynampet area this morning – still some could be cited without helmets on the busy arterial road itself … do you call them fool-hardy or idiotic   ?

In 2007, there was the Government Order on helmets, enforced briefly – then the Govt issued a recommendation ‘not to harass public in the name of enforcing law’.   So, perhaps, the Chennai citizen is waiting and watching !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

2nd July 2015.

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