In just nine months, Bengaluru city traffic cops have nabbed 12.82 lakh helmetless pillion riders. Those who have taken the helmet rule lightly have had to pay up Rs 300; the fine is actually Rs 100 for the rider, and Rs 300 for the pillion. But come December, the penalty will go up to Rs 1,000, with the Centre amending the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.The amendment, which is set to roll out, also mandates fine up to Rs 2,000 or appearance in court for both the rider and pillion.
Transport minister R Ramalinga Reddy told TOI, “The new road safety bill mandates a higher levy of Rs 1,000 for riders and pillion riders who do not wear helmets. That is for a first-time offender.The second-time offender will either have to pay Rs 2,000 or appear in court. We have also proposed that a third-time offender's driving licence be impounded for a minimum of three months, and it is under consideration.“ The bill will be debated in the Rajya Sabha in the winter session. Reddy is one of the members of a Group of Ministers formed by the ministry of road transport and highways, that has proposed amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The cabinet approved the bill on August 3, 2016, to address road safety issues and make transport department services technolo gically oriented and transparent for citizens.
R Hitendra, additional commissioner of police (traffic) told TOI, “The helmet has become a part of the vehicle (two-wheeler) and not the person. Most riders and pillion riders latch the helmet to the bike but don't wear it all the time. It is only when they see a cop on the road or cops enforcing traffic and motor vehicle rules at a junction, that they immediately put it on. Sometimes, some get caught without it. This figure alone is too high even now.“
On January 12, 2016, the rule making the helmet mandatory for the pillion rider came into force in the state, although the transport department implemented the rule in December 2015 itself.But the department and traffic police gave citizens a grace period of 15 days, so they fall into the habit and follow the rule, without police having to penalize them for not abiding by the law.“Citizens are afraid of paying a fine, not about protecting themselves or their heads in case of an accident,“ he added. Every day, cops are registering about 15,000 cases against 39 types of violations.
Statistics, too, clearly talk about the reality. Two-wheelers are the second highest number, after cars and jeeps, involved in accidents in the city. As many as 1,208 twowheelers were involved in accidents till September 30, of a total of 4,117 accidents recorded by police. In 2015, the number stood at 1,332. Hitendra admitted that adherence to the pillion rider helmet rule was very high in the initial months when it was enforced, but things gradually slipped back. There is another absurd trend: the pillion rider wears a helmet while the rider doesn't. That happens because the fine levied on the pillion rider for not wearing a helmet is higher (Rs 300) than that levied on the rider for the same offence (Rs 100). As many as 13.65 lakh two-wheeler riders have been penalized till September.However, last year, city traffic cops caught 17.7 lakh riders without helmets.
It is strange that basic safety gear like the helmet is driving many Bengalureans to play a cat-and-mouse game with the traffic police. While road death statistics make it clear the helmetless rider is at high risk, citizens prefer to ignore the implications and would rather pay up a fine of Rs 300. Though most riders and pillions adhered to the rule when it first kicked in, the trend has been to slacken on the part of both riders and traffic cops. The new rules, carrying heavy penalties, should reverse matters. But why such a life-saving habit needs policing defies reasoning.
Article source : www.timesofindia.com