Helmet wearing compulsory at Chennai from June 1, 2007

Helmet Wearing

The Government has made it mandatory vide its order dated 22.02.2007 for the two wheeler riders and the pillion riders to wear helmets with effect from June 1, 2007 at Chennai and other 5 Municipal Corporations (Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Salem, Tirunelveli);

Implementation of compulsory wearing of helmets in the remaining areas in the State of Tamil Nadu becomes effective from July 1, 2007. Non-wearing of helmets by two wheeler drivers and pillion riders for the first instance will attract a fine which may extend upto one hundred rupees, and for any second or subsequent offences with fine which may extend upto three hundred rupees.

In Kolkata where helmet wearing is mandatory , Motorists and their pillon riders wear helmets just to escape penalties imposed by the traffic police. Usage of wrong kind of helmet is as good as not wearing helmet at all.

IS 4151 is an Indian Standard Specification for motorcycle helmets. Helmets made for police, industrial and mining purposes have different specifications and are not suitable for protection in case of a motorcycle accident.

The ISI branded helmets bear the licence code, say IS: 4151, besides the seven digit licence number, name of the manufacturing company, shape, year of manufacture and the standard mark The cheaper helmets could shatter on the slightest impact and will not save anybody’s skull in case of a crash. A helmet should be replaced every two or three years. If a helmet has been involved in an impact, it must be changed without a second thought.

The quality helmets come for anything between Rs 500 and above while the cheaper ones are available at a lower price. Surveys conducted worldwide have confirmed that the helmet is the most effective counter measure against brain injury in the life of a two- wheeler user.

A mandatory helmet usage law was enacted on June 1, 1997 in Taiwan. Before the helmet law, it was reported that only 21% of motorcyclists used helmets, while 95.95% used helmets after the law was in place. Motorcycle-related head injuries decreased from 5,260 in the year before the law was passed to 3,535 in the year following the passage of the law. The number of hospitalized patients with motorcycle-related head injuries decreased from 211 to 141, and skull fractures were reduced by 34.3% from 839 to 551.

The two major government hospitals — the General Hospital attached to Madras Medical College and the Stanley Medical College Hospital in Royapuram — together receive 70 to 90 cases of head injury every day. Ninety per cent of them are due to road traffic accidents (RTAs). Stanley Medical College Hospital receives 15-20 head injury cases every day.

The Chennai traffic police recorded 1136 fatal accidents in 2006; of these nearly 50 per cent were two-wheeler accidents. According to the Police Department only two people have died with helmets.

Helmet Wearing

Surveys cite many reasons for riders not wearing helmets, including discomfort, fear of hair-loss, headache, neck pain, and some other reasons.

With the law making the two wheeler riders and pillion riders making the wearing of helmets compulsory with effect from June 1, 2007 at Chennai, let us hope and wish that the two wheeler accidents does not result in loss of life.

Tail piece :

While researching in the net for this post I found that Concord Arai Private Ltd , a Chennai based company is the first to manufacture helmets in the Country & Chennai and Coimbatore already have a sizeable population of helmet wearers.

(References : Recent newspaper reports in the Net and The Effectiveness of Motorcycle Helmets and Mandatory Helmet Laws By Helmut Schneider ISDS Department at Louisiana State University dated December 9, 2006)

13 Comments so far

  1. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on May 13th, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

    Fear of hair loss…

    Are there no two-wheeler drivers in Chennai with fear of Life Loss?

    Apparently not, by the way they drive.

    Oh… by the way, the law apparently covers the driver and his pillion passenger. Does it mention the three children?

  2. Govar (unregistered) on May 13th, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

    LOL! Three children… Good one there Thad. E Ginathom. :) Would be interesting to watch how this ‘drive safe’ law extends itself in the first place over two wheelers carrying entire families. Forget helmets… these families place themselves and everyone at risk just being there.

    Btw, do you guys have any dope whether “hair-loss, headache, neck pain etc” are real effects of wearning helmets.

  3. sachin (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 2:09 am

    with the way they drive – cutting lanes, zig zag, like some brownian motion – i think they need pads, arm guards, abdomen guard and gloves for their own good!

  4. K.Shyam (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 2:49 am

    “Btw, do you guys have any dope whether “hair-loss, headache, neck pain etc” are real effects of wearning helmets.”

    They are the effect of wearing improper helmets. When one buys a helmet, all he/she needs to do is to spend a few minutes checking the comfort level. For example, the helmet should not be heavy, failing which neck pain is a common symptom. Also, the helmet should be one inch higher than the start of your spine, or, it should be one inch higher than the joint between neck and body, failing which there would be more chances of an injury to your spine when you fall down.

    The only real disadvantage of wearing a helmet, is that it would limit your ability to use the corner of your eye to check who is coming behind you, a disadvantage, which is more out of bad driving than anything else. After all, what are rear-view mirrors for ?

    So if someone needs a helmet that satisfies all these, you would need to fork out atleast a thousand rupees, which unfortunately people do not want to. The failure here is in realizing the fact that when you can pay 20K rupees for a vehicle why not a percentage of that for a decent helmet ? And most importantly, it is better to pay for a helmet and wear it, rather than pay for the medical expenses.

    Perhaps, the only logical defense that people can give against wearing a helmet, is that inside city limits the speed at which a person can travel in a bike is limited. However, when a person falls off a bike, the is a risk of damage to head due to stones and stuff !

    PS: Before someone concludes that this is an arm-chair fellow waxing eloquence, all this comes out of personal experience of having covered at-least 20K kms in a bike across Indian roads, in all kinds of weather conditions, in a single calender year.

  5. foo (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 6:20 am

    Perhaps, the only logical defense that people can give against wearing a helmet, is that inside city limits the speed at which a person can travel in a bike is limited.

    That attempted defense would be bullshit. Here’s the data:

    The median pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph, and the median crash speed was 21.5 mph, and the one-in-a-thousand crash speed is approximately 86 mph.

    To rephrase, a full 50% of motorcycle crashes happen when traveling at 30 mph (48 km/h) or less, which is the typical peak speed a Chennai motorcyclist attains between traffic lights. Additionally, 50% of motorcycles travel at 21.5 mph (34.6 km/h) or less at the moment of impact. If you define “high speed” as being “more than 50 km/h”, less than half of all motorcycle crashes happen at “high speed”. Anyone saying that they don’t need a helmet because they drive slowly doesn’t know what they are talking about.

    See more fun statistics of motorcycle deaths at http://www.clarity.net/~adam/hurt-report.html.

  6. Viggie (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 11:28 am

    Reg. data by FOO from Clarity.net

    What is more important is pre-crash speed. In most accidents, they realise they’re going to hit and apply brakes or do some sort of panic action. So the actual speed while crashing will be very much lower than what they are actually doing.

    I’m not sure how they arrive at these crash speed figures, since accident means unexpected happening, they can’t setup high precision equipments to measure pre-crash and crash speeds. Besides the motorcycles used in USA and their roads are completely different from what we have here.

    Anyway I agree that slow speed does not guarantee safety. Many 2-wheeler accidents in India involves heavy vehicle running over 2-wheeler from behind. In such cases, slow speed actually does not help.

  7. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 3:38 pm

    Never mind the families! I’m starting to see (twice this week, but I’m sure you guys can assure me it is nothing new) the single driver, driving with one hand and holding a child in the other arm!

  8. Vivek (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 3:52 pm

    My only problem with helmet is — specs.

    Everytime I wear a helmet I have to take out my spectacles, wear the helmet and wear them back. Now if you’re driving and your cellphone starts to ring, you have to do the reverse process all the way and you (most probably) end up missing the call. This gets a little irritating at times.

    But this cell-specs-helmet trouble is _definitely_ worth the avertion of risk to fatal injuries. :)

  9. Govar (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

    Vivek, you can circumvent your specs problem by buying a simple hands-free. What I used to do (in my two wheeler driving days before I called it a day and moved on to 4 wheeler not wanting the risk of 2 wheelers) is have a nice music mobile. That way, you can listen to music in low volume (enough to hear honks and other important ‘noises’ around). And its extremely simple to receive a call.

    But, if you can afford, I’d suggest to move to a 4 wheeler. I guess its simply worth the pain.

  10. Sharun (unregistered) on May 29th, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

    Y its good to hear that helmet wearing is compulsory. However I still have a doubt! how the middle class people will manage this law. It is very often to see in roads that some of the middle class family members where both husband and wife were working travel in motor cycle. Suppose if they have 2 childrens each 3 and 1 year old and what if they use helmet for childrens. It will definitely create a threat and they will cry creating a nonsense early morning.

  11. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 9:01 am


    I wonder what speed is required to shatter a skull against the road.

    I bet it is in single figures!

  12. sucheta (unregistered) on June 2nd, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

    this is a housewife whose duty is to ferry two kids from class to classon a moped.needless to say my speed is barely enough to overtake a bullock cart being pulled by an old ox(as good as walking i guess) i have a querry on behalf of so many mothers in chennai in my position.is a moped a two wheeler just because it has two wheels?

  13. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on June 2nd, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

    Sucheta, I suggest that you read the Government order for which the link is provided in the post in the first para. A plain reading of the order indicates that the GO does not distinguish between a motorcycle / scooter / moped. It uses the word two wheeler and pillion riders. I feel that the order of wearing helmet applies to those who are riding mopeds also. Any alternate views on the question raised by sucheta ?

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