From 1 February, wearing a helmet with an ISI mark will be mandatory in Bengaluru. The orders to enforce the rule in Bengaluru city comes days after the Mysuru police’s campaign against poor quality helmets caught the attention of Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy.
Senior police officers said that Bengaluru traffic police will conduct a month long awareness campaign, on the need for a good quality helmet, before beginning the enforcement. From 1 February, two-wheeler riders will be fined Rs 100, if they don’t wear a helmet with an ISI mark, a senior police officer added.
The directive making the decision official was issued by DG and IGP Neelamani Raju on 4 January. Sources said that the Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, who appreciated the campaign by Mysuru police, asked the DG and IGP to make the rule mandatory for the entire state.
Apart from Bengaluru, four other police commissionarates — Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi-Dharawad and Belagavi — and all inspector general of police (IGPs) across the state have been given the same order.
The Mysuru Police’s Campaign
The Mysuru police on 2 January began the enforcement campaign against cheap plastic/makeshift helmets. A report in Bangalore Mirror said that the Mysuru traffic police officers said their mission was to implement the helmet rule in the city after a sharp rise in accidents involving two-wheelers. Many motorists were taken by surprise and were seen arguing with the police, said the report.
The report added that on the first day of the drive, cops stopped motorists wearing non-ISI helmets and seized them on the spot. The cops also raided shops and roadside vendors selling non-ISI marked helmets and seized them.
The photos of this drive went viral and Bengaluru traffic police were flooded with queries asking whether such a drive was in place in the city and some demanding the same.
Bengaluru Police’s Initial Hiccups
As the demands for a similar drive in Bengaluru persisted, the top brass decided to take legal opinion, to get clarity on a section of the Motor Vehicles Act, discussing helmets.
The problem for the cops was the wording of the section. Section 129 of the IMV Act says protective headgear should be worn by riders of two-wheelers and it should be ‘conforming’ to the BIS standards, it didn’t specify whether an ISI mark needed to be printed on the helmet.
However, after DG & IGP orders were issued and getting a positive legal opinion, Bengaluru police have decided to go ahead with the decision to mandate helmets with ISI mark.
R Hithendra, additional commissioner of police, traffic said that one month’s time has been given so that there is no panic among commuters. However, by November 1 all two-wheeler riders and pillions should have helmets with an ISI mark, he added.
Cops Use Poor Quality Helmets Too
Bengaluru city was one of the first to enforce the law demanding both the rider and the pillion rider wear a helmet. There has not been a campaign against poor quality helmets so far. However, on the streets of Bengaluru, the number of commuters using plastic helmets and construction site helmets is huge.
Even cops in the city are guilty of using substandard helmets, as pointed out on social media by several netizens. Hitendra said that action will be taken against policemen violating the rules, once the law is enforced.