Express Drives recently did a story on how non-ISI branded helmet sales were going to be banned from June 1. Now, the government of India has applied the ban. Today, if someone is found selling or manufacturing a non-ISI certified helmet, then they will have to face the consequences – in this case it will be imprisonment for a year, fine of Rs 1 lakh or both. This order was given out in November 2018, thereafter in 2019 certain rules were laid out for the same. All the helmets sold in India will now have to meet the BIS quality requirements. The traffic cop has every right now to challan a rider if he or she isn’t wearing an ISI-certified helmet. Moreover, the fact that the BIS standards are quite similar to the international DOT, ECE could be something that may be lost on the enforcers. The 2018 ruling meant that someone with an ARAI or Shoei helmet is actually using an illegal lid in India.
Does this mean someone wearing an imported lid could be asked to pay a fine by the traffic police? Yes, they will be fined but our traffic cops are so burdened that sometimes even those not wearing a helmet are not challaned. If we talk of getting challaned via a CCTV camera, then it is very rare wherein the certification of the helmet will be visible in a grainy image. Bottom line is that every lid that is worn today, irrespective of when it was bought, has to have an ISI certification. Currently, most of the superbike showrooms do not stock high-end helmets. If you take Triumph for example, the British manufacturer has stopped selling helmets altogether in the country. When the talks of non-ISI helmets being banned started in late 2018, these dealerships were left saddled with unsold stocks of costly helmets. Unsold inventory is obviously not good news, especially because a huge amount of money is at stake.
While international-spec helmets are usually considered superior due to the extensive tests conducted on them, the government of India is likely looking to promote local makes. Or rather, the Make-In-India policy. Through this, more employment will be generated in our market and exports of the India-made helmets could also happen on a larger scale. Reducing road accident deaths too is a major motto, with the India-make helmets working out to be affordable than the imported ones. Few states had ordered motorcycle companies to provide two helmets with every bike purchase. How religiously this is being followed or do the riders actually wear them is a question to which you and I know the answer to.
“This takes us one step closer to our milestone and in making two-wheeler usage safer in India as the cheap roadside helmets that offer little or no protection in case of a crash will no longer be available. Such corrective measures are need of the hour to save human lives. Approximately 3% of GDP is lost due to road accidents and this step will certainly help to reduce these losses. There already is strict enforcement for adherence to the rule and strict punishment for the violators. Also, ISI-certified helmet manufacturers and big organisation should be encouraged to come forward and invest in this field as the demand for helmets will certainly grow. All the existing ISI-certified manufacturers will certainly have an advantage and even the government will benefit out of it. This implementation will generate more revenue in terms of taxes and duty which was earlier hogged up by unorganised players” commented Rajeev Kapur, President, Two-wheeler Helmet Manufacturer Association.
Sidhartha Bhushan Khurana, Managing Director, STUDDS Accessories Ltd said
Ban on the manufacturing, import, sale, and storage of non-ISI helmets has been long due and was absolutely critical for the safety of the riders. Clamping down the sub-standard helmets will not just provide relief from disservice to the Indian citizen from the road hazards but will also support local manufacturers to further boost the Make-In-India strategy. Manufacturing helmets in the country would also make them more affordable for the everyday commute. Currently, only 65-70% of the industry encompasses the ISI Certified players and this move will open huge opportunities for the organised players giving a big boost by driving demand. Considering factors like more local manufacturers, affordability, switch to personal mobility post COVID coupled with mandatory and increasing challans, we can expect a significant rise in the demand and number of helmet users in the coming months. Lastly, looking at positive sentiment in the industry, we hope to increase our capacity with ramped up production gradually post the pandemic.
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