|Our Special Correspondent|
|New Delhi, July 10: The Centre has decided to make helmets mandatory for children above four years riding pillion on motorbikes, amending the Motor Vehicles Act that is now vague on helmet rules for those below 12 years.|
The amendments are likely to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament, which starts on July 18, officials at the Union road transport and highways ministry said. The draft of the amendments has been circulated among the other ministries for their views.
A senior official said the ministry had formed an experts' committee to suggest a design for light helmets suitable for children.
"A detailed analysis has shown that about 34 children are killed every day in road crashes. We are seeking ways to curb this alarmingly high number," the official said.
Nearly five lakh accidents occurred last year, killing around 1.46 lakh people. Of them, some 12,500 were aged under 17 and were killed mostly in two-wheeler accidents.
"Once the amendment is passed by Parliament, police can prosecute two-wheeler drivers who carry minor passengers without helmets," the official said.
Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act now "empowers the state government to prescribe protective headgear to be worn by the driver or pillion rider of motorcycles, other than a person who is a Sikh wearing a turban, and to make such exemption as the state government thinks fit".
Most states have made it mandatory for women riders to wear helmets too but are silent on children riding pillion, road safety experts said.
Harman Sidhu of ArriveSafe Foundation, an NGO that advocates safe practices on roads, welcomed the move.
"One often sees teenagers riding two-wheelers at high speeds without helmets. Even their parents don't bother," he said.
"Sometimes, children without helmets are made to travel standing or sitting in front of the two-wheeler rider. Often, they ride pillion clinging to the adult. Such practices can lead to grievous injuries and deaths."
Calcutta police have been enforcing a new rule since Friday under which a motorcyclist without a helmet, or one with a pillion rider not wearing the headgear, is barred from buying fuel at petrol stations. Sources said the rule was not, however, being strictly followed in the case of helmet-less child pillion riders.
Sidhu said that many countries had made it mandatory for child pillion riders to wear helmets.
"Some western countries like the United Kingdom have made it mandatory for all passengers to wear helmets, while some others have introduced age limits," Sidhu said.
"Even riding a bicycle without a helmet is punishable in some countries."
In Australia and some states in America and Canada, adult bikers are punished for carrying helmet-less minors on the pillion.
Our government likes to joke.
Here even the exisitng law requiring all two wheeler drivers (Motor cycle, scooter and scooty) to wear helmets is not imposed strictly. Rather no law is imposed strictly. If you have political backing you can get away with murder but otherwise you can get away with bribing he police. In such an environment expecting the four year old to wear a helmet is just a way to make the police earn bribe money for traffic violations by the minor and indirectly fund politicians.
In the USA even cyclists are expected to wear helmets.
The occupants of the rear seat in a car are expected to wear seat belts.
Illinois residents and visitors must keep their children properly secured in a vehicle when driving throughout the state. Illinois' Child Passenger Protection Act requires that all children under the age of 8 travel in an appropriate approved child restraint system while older children must use a seat belt at all times. A fine may be assessed to parents who fail to adhere to the law.