In one of the good moves towards road safety, the Delhi Government has made the helmet mandatory for women as well. Though a little known order but the Delhi Traffic Police went full throttle in prosecuting women for not wearing the helmets from the first day of the order itself.
The Awareness Campaign
The 15-Day campaign to raise awareness on the mandatory rule of wearing helmets for all the two wheeler riders is surely a step forward, but it seemed to have only little effect on women. As most of them either did not know about the mandatory rule, or were just too careless to follow it. Each of the women not complying with the rule had to pay a challan of Rs. 100 in the Delhi / NCR area. But, some women fought with the constables and even abused them for asking the challan.
Are we doing it right?
Even though the Delhi Traffic Police is all set to prosecute anyone who is not wearing the helmet now, but there is a glitch in that too. By norms, the Sikh riders are exempted from wearing helmet, as they carry a turban. But, pressing the same rule for Sikh women saying that it would hurt the religious sentiments is a moot question. Even though, we value the religious concerns and sentiments and the government also ensures to uphold them wherever possible. But, if we are exempting Sikh women from wearing helmet, even those who do not carry a turban, are we doing it right?
According to statistics, almost 63 women were killed in road accidents last year. Should we really not worry for the road safety of our Sikh Women? Well, the answer to this question completely remains with the highest religious authority for the Sikhs.
Can we achieve the desired objective with the new rule?
The Delhi government had issued a notification on August 28 making wearing of helmets mandatory for women with immediate effect. However, Sikh women have been exempted from it on religious grounds.
According to the earlier rule, it was optional for women pillion riders to wear a helmet. The government has amended the rule 115 of the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules, 1993 to make the new provisions.
This will surely be able to curb the fatal injuries in almost 500 two wheeler road accidents that happen every year in the capital. But, such rules should never have a gender or a religious component involved, as ultimate aim is to ensure road safety for all the pillion riders. Some people rightly advocate that it should be made mandatory even for children.
As the chairman of the International Road Federation of India, a road safety advocay group, Kiran Kumar Kapila, also said, that wearing a helmet should be a “mandatory provision for all passengers, irrespective of whether they are women or children.”
“Of course children need separate helmets made in smaller sizes,” he added, “but the first step is to make wearing one mandatory, and not voluntary.”
We look forward to having lesser number of serious road injuries by the end of year 2014. But we as individuals, need to take the first step of complying to the rule and ensuring our own safety, and then comes the role of the Traffic Police. This article is open to views or comments by all the readers, so we know exactly how this new rule is affecting the people around.