Gujarat decision to make helmets

NEW DELHI: The cabinet's decision to make optional for two-wheel drivers in all municipal areas of the state is contrary to the provisions of the recently amended Vehicle Law. The amended law has eliminated the provision to allow state governments or any authority to grant any exemption under this law.

Central government officials said the new rule was introduced considering that some of the state governments in the past had modified the law to grant exemptions to certain categories of two-wheeled passengers.

“The central law has gone a step further to protect the lives of all cyclists over four years of age and the use of the helmet has become mandatory for them. This provision has not been promulgated considering that there are currently no helmets to serve this age group. Any movement to make the use of helmets optional is a regressive step. There have been several observations from the court to make the helmet mandatory for all road users, ”said an official who declined to be identified.

Road safety experts said that before making such a decision, a state government should analyze data related to the deaths of two-wheel drivers. According to the latest traffic accident report from the Ministry of Transportation, of the total of 48,746 two-wheel passengers who died in traffic accidents in 2018, just over 43,600 did not wear a helmet when they encountered accidents.

What is even more alarming is that the number of cyclists without helmets who were killed increased four times between 2016 and 2018. Even in Gujarat, the numbers have increased more than seven times, from 209 in 2016 to 1,546 in 2018. and The data provided by the state police showed that the number of people killed was 1,912 in 2017.

“Even in terms of vehicle composition, two-wheelers represent approximately 70% participation and, therefore, it is necessary to focus on safety-related interventions in this segment. Consequently, the use of the helmet has become mandatory and greater sanctions have been imposed for the violation of this provision in the Modified Motor Vehicles Act passed by Parliament in 2019, ”said the 2018 traffic accident report.

Time view

This is the worst type populism. Last year, the state lost more than 1,500 lives of people in two-wheelers who did not wear helmets. What was needed was a stricter application of the laws that require the use of these safety devices. Unfortunately, what we have instead is that the laws are relaxing. Road safety, as so many other times in the past also in other states, has been left in the background. This is not the way to go if we want to get rid of the label of India as one of the world leaders in deaths from traffic accidents. We hope that even at this late stage a better sense will prevail.