The Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) of Kerala, it seems has just banned helmet cameras. This information comes from an internal circular circulated among MVD officials. In the circular, the MVD has also revealed that the penalty for riding while wearing a helmet mounted with a camera is Rs. 1,000. The transport commissioner has also directed that driving licenses of offenders be cancelled for 3 months if necessary. For now, the ban can’t be challenged in court as it’s still in the form of a circular. Once a cop fines someone wearing a helmet with a camera, courts can be moved.
The harsh crackdown on helmet cameras come a year after such a rule was first mooted by the Kerala Motor Vehicle Department. When the proposed ban on helmet cameras came up last year, the Kerala MVD asserted that using helmet cameras distracted riders, leading to accidents. This time around, the rationale for banning helmet cameras is completely different.
It is a fact that riding dangerously on public roads is a menace in Kerala. Facebook reels and Instagram are rife with videos of young people trying dangerous stunts, racing, breaking all rules in their quest to get applause from their peers.
However, this is not the official reason given. The Kerala MVD is saying that mounting cameras on helmets change the structure of the helmet, and that this can cause the helmet to perform sub-optimally, injuring the person wearing the helmet with a camera mounted on it. The MVD also maintains that a few riders wearing helmets with cameras have been injured in recent accidents.
What’s a legal solution to this?
The ban on helmet cameras would affect those riders would have a record of their rides, and would take away video evidence in case they get into accidents. Currently, car dash cams are a life saver when it comes to accidents. Drivers and riders often use recordings from their cameras to convince onlookers and cops of their innocence in case of a crash. One solution for the riders in Kerala would be to mount the cameras on the motorcycles themselves using a motorcycle camera mount. While MVD may object to this, it is less likely. Some riders have suggested fixing the camera on riding jackets.
World over, riders wear helmets with cameras mounted on them. However, there have been concerns raised around cameras mounted on helmets reducing crash protection. In fact, the FIA – one of the best known governing bodies for competitive motorsport – has banned the use of action cameras on helmets. Also, the investigation following Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident blamed the action camera mounted on the former F1 great’s helmet as a contributory factor for the severe injuries he sustained in the accident. These studies – in addition to the injuries suffered by riders wearing helmets with action cameras – could be what prompted why the Motor Vehicle Department of Kerala has come up with this latest rule.
On the other hand, tests conducted by the BBC under controlled conditions seem to indicate that helmet mounted action cameras actually absorbed some of the impact during the crash, making the helmet safer. While action camera manufacturers assert that action camera mounts break during a crash, preventing the camera from causing additional injuries to the rider, they also absolve themselves of liability by mentioning that users of action cameras do so at their own risk. Helmet manufacturers – for their part – do not recommend mounting action cameras, or for that matter even sticking stickers to crash helmets. To sum it up, the jury seems quite divided on this one.