I’m sorry if I sounded like a philosopher from back in the day when squiggly lines didn’t help you correct grammar or spelling. Those lines are in fact a pretty good summary of what I feel about this new rule that’s under consideration about non-ISI certified helmets. As a matter of fact, it’s a direct result of my conversation with Rajeev Kapur, president of the ISI Helmet Manufacturers’ Association.
During my discussion with him I realised that the idea and the original intent behind the demand for such a rule is not only legitimate but also necessary. India has a staggering number of two-wheeler users. SIAM’s officially published data suggests that a mind boggling 17.6 million two-wheelers were sold in India in just 2016-17; 16.5 million were sold the year before and nearly 16 million in 2014-15. We don’t yet have the data for 2017-18, but with every motorcycle manufacturer operating in India having sent us press releases month after month showcasing a wonderful growth story, I’d be surprised if we aren’t closer to the 18 million mark this year.
Those numbers also indicate the need for proper helmets, a pair to each of those sales, accounting for a rider and a pillion. As a motorcycle rider myself and having ridden in various conditions and countries, I cannot stress enough the importance of the need for helmets. Yet, the sad fact is that only a fraction of these people will ever even consider donning a lid before kicking their motorcycling career into life. A vast majority of the ones who do wear a lid often choose to spend on sub standard helmets sold cheaply on pavements, and occasionally even in bonafide shops. Helmets that will save the rider from a traffic cop’s ire but will certainly not help save anything at the moment of truth when the man hits the road after a crash. For that kind of protection you’ll need to invest (note the use of invest as opposed to spend) in a proper helmet that has gone through a gamut of testing and has been certified by nothing less than the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) by the ubiquitous ISI certification.
It is precisely for this that we need a law, or at least an amendment to existing law, that will necessitate a helmet user to use a lid that carries an ISI certification at the very least. It’s a legitimate demand and one that should help save lives. The only part of this that I did not get, at all, was why a helmet that has already been certified should have to be certified again. If a helmet has already been tested for impact and it already conforms to crash norms, why can I not use it?
Secondly, if I already have a good helmet why should I be penalised for it? Is it not obvious that if I have spent good money on a good helmet, certified by another agency, that will provide adequate crash protection on a race circuit I am actually keenly interested in saving my skull on? Am I not conforming then with the intent of those who seek the ban on non-ISI helmets? After all, I am as eager to save my head as they are. More than that, I have already put my money where my mouth is and have acquired this critical piece of safety gear. I suspect, it’s another case of great intent diluted by a draft of a policy that hasn’t been thought out to the very end. The silver lining is that the draft is still a draft and there is still time to consider every aspect of this new law. Hopefully, the country’s law makers are listening and will agree.