Cheap, poor-quality helmets are not hard to come by in the Capital. In fact, you can find these for as low as Rs 25 at the nearby general stores. It may save you some money but may end up costing your life.
These fragile helmets — which look like caps made of thin plastic and sponge with attached elastic straps — do not provide the required protection in case of an accident. With no minimum quality standards, helmets have been reduced to an accessory needed only to escape the traffic cops.
“Almost three years ago I lost a close friend in a bike accident as his helmet was of poor quality, and again just seven days ago lost another friend in a bike accident as he was not wearing a helmet. To save some money we are ready to risk our lives,” said BS Vohra, president of the East Delhi Residents Welfare Association, who has been working for citizen safety for over a decade now.
Road safety activists and residents like Vohra have been stressing on the need for quality of helmets.
“I don’t blame the shopkeepers who sell low quality helmets. They sell what people buy. The government agencies which ignore the safety of commuters are to be held responsible. A person who can afford a two-wheeler costing around Rs50,000 can surely afford a safety gear worth Rs 2,500 but no one bothers as it is not mandatory,” said Mohammad Imran, founder of the NGO Safe Road Foundation which has been working to create awareness among people about safe road practices.
Imran also said that let alone an accident these cheap versions do not even survive the force of a fall. “Drop these helmets from a height of 4 feet and they will crack at the centre. How will these protect your skull from the impact of an accident?” he asks.
Making pillion riders — particularly women — wear helmets is another challenge for cops. “The skull of a woman is no different from that of a man and is likely to experience equal or more damage if not equipped with proper safety. Traffic constables hear all kinds of excuses ranging from beauty to religious reasons for not wearing helmets. The law should be equally implemented for both genders,” said joint commissioner of police (traffic), Garima Bhatnagar.
Here are a few useful -- and potentially life-saving -- tips to keep in mind when you scour the markets for your next helmet: