Experts in Ontario raise concerns over helmet exemption to Sikh motorcycle riders
After Alberta, BC and Manitoba province in Canada, Ontario is next in line to exempt turban-wearing Sikh motorcycle riders from wearing helmet.Updated: Sep 18, 2018 09:08 IST
According to a report by CBC, experts in Ontario are now raising concern over exemption from wearing helmet to turban-wearing Sikh motorcycle riders.
After Alberta, BC and Manitoba province in Canada, Ontario is next in line to exempt turban-wearing Sikh motorcycle riders from wearing helmet.
Premier Doug Ford had announced that Ontario will become the fourth province in the country to allow Sikh motorcyclists to ride without helmets in August this year.
The report by CBC says, “This winter, Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation says Sikh riders will be exempt from the province’s motorcycle helmet law.”
“The possibility of an exemption has been a contentious topic for years, with some arguing that it would pose a safety risk, but now Premier Doug Ford says he will make the change in recognition of Sikh motorcycle riders’ civil rights and religious expression.”
A motorcycle safety expert, Raynald Marchand of the Canada Safety Council, who told CBC Toronto that he is concerned about the risks the decision may bring.
He said that helmets can reduce head injuries by as much as 67% and death by 37%, and says he hopes that if the province goes through with the exemption, that it will restrict it to those who have their full license.
“If it’s an experienced, fully-licensed Sikh that already has an idea of what it is to be on the road, then it’s a choice,” Marchand said. “We would prefer, of course, that everybody wear helmets.”
Marchand said he understands that the turban isn’t something that can be put on or taken off easily, and that it’s important to those practicing the religion.
“They can wear a helmet without the turban, it’s just that they need some privacy to go back and forth, and it definitely takes time,” he said.
Marchand says that riders who don’t wear helmets also risk their vision on the road.
“Unprotected eyes tend to be deformed by the air pressure or the tears, which makes it difficult to see,” he added.
He advises that those choosing to forgo helmets with visors wear good protective lenses.
Another website Driving says, in Ontario, the helmet law as it applies to Sikhs was first challenged in 2008, when the Ontario Human Rights Commission took up the cause of Baljinder Badesha, who was fighting a $110 ticket he received a few years prior for refusing to wear his motorcycle helmet.
Ontario Court Justice James Blacklock, however, ruled against Badesha and the OHRC, issuing a 35-page decision. In it, he writes an exemption would render the helmet law unwieldy since anyone violating it could simply claim they were devout.