In the year 2017, nearly 1.48 lakhs two wheeler riders died for driving without a helmet. As per the Road Accident Report, the figure is slightly lower than the statistics in 2016 where nearly 1.51 lakhs fatalities occurred due to the same reason.
Another fact is that nearly 42% of the dead were pillion riders. About 98 persons died daily for not wearing a helmet in the year 2017.
All these figures are extremely high. But what does it tell us? That Indian bike riders are really not concerned about their sense of safety.
That is indeed a scary thought.
Not wearing a helmet is a bravado to many of the younger generation. Lack of safety awareness has given rise to such bravados where they do not treat the helmet as essential safety gear.
The section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 makes it mandatory for a rider of a two wheeler to wear a helmet. It is also compulsory for a pillion rider to wear a helmet while riding a two wheeler too.
In case of a rider of a two wheeler without helmet fine was very low. The no helmet fine amounted to merely Rs. 100 only. This low helmet fine did not act as a deterrent to the riders choosing to ride their motorcycles without a helmet.
As the fine for not wearing a helmet was so low that even if a violator was caught by the police and issued a helmet challan such violator happily paid the helmet fine and went away. The fine was in no way the required deterrent that the authorities could use as the appropriate measure to curtail riders from riding minus their safety gear.
A rider of a two wheeler kept on paying the no helmet fine whenever caught by the police. The entire act was mechanical where the purpose of the police was to issue helmet challan to the violators and collect the helmet fine from them and deposit it to the treasury.
It was becoming impossible for the police to enforce the habit of wearing a helmet at the time of riding two wheelers. The measly amount of helmet fine became more of a prohibition rather than an enforcer of this important traffic rule.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of the Government of India realized that the fine for not wearing helmet is so abysmally low that it will never be able to control the violators. Therefore, the Ministry officials designed a fresh set of amendments to the existing Motor Vehicles Act to tighten their grip on the violators.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 ushered in huge changes in the law. The Act was amended to steeply increase the fine for not wearing a helmet. At present, the helmet fine has been increased to an Rs. 1000 penalty and disqualification of license for 3 months.
Now that the laws in regard to fine for not wearing helmet have been steeply increased along with the suspension of the license, one can be hopeful that it will truly act as a deterrent. The violators of the traffic rules will feel the pinch of the punishment handed out to them.
This may ultimately bring in a change in the attitude. If the change takes over then a rider can drive safely and freely without helmet challan and no helmet fine.