In a volte face, Karnataka’s Traffic Police Department has withdrawn the ISI-helmet rule for motorcycle and scooter riders and pillions of that state. Just a week back, traffic police officials of Karnataka had conducted a drive against non-ISI branded helmets, seizing a lot of non-ISI helmets and fining riders and pillions found wearing such helmets.
Back then, traffic police officials pointed to Karnataka’s Motor Vehicles Rules, which stated that helmets worn by riders and pillions needed to have the ISI mark (that certifies acceptable levels of quality and crash performance). Traffic police officials had also set the deadline of 1st February for all riders and pillions to switch to ISI branded helmets. Now though, this deadline has been withdrawn.
Mr. Hithendra, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Bangalore, announced the sudden change with this statement,
Traffic policemen on duty cannot decide the standard of helmets by a mere physical inspection and hence it is unfair to penalising bikers for wearing sub-standard helmets. It would have been difficult for the policemen on duty to check the quality of the helmet. Each and every helmet we confiscate would had to be sent to the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) office and we could not impose a fine until we got the results. We will advise riders to use standard protective headgear while riding two-wheelers as only those can save their heads and lives at the time of accidents.
Many bikers who wear helmets that were branded with ECE and DOT marks, said to be better than ISI in terms of quality and crash performance, complained that the ISI-helmet rule was unfair. Mr. Hithendra had also sought the Transport Department’s opinion on this issue. Now that the BIS has clarified that a helmet’s quality cannot be assessed by just looking at it, the traffic police department of Karnataka would no longer check for the ISI-mark on helmets worn by riders and pillions of two wheelers in India.