Women riding on Chandigarh roads now have a new rule to follow! As per a notification by the Chandigarh administration, women riding two-wheelers will now have to wear helmets. This amendment has come in the wake of Punjab and Haryana High Court asking the UT administration to consider measures to avoid major road fatalities in the Union Territory. As per reports, in 2017, Chandigarh witnessed 107 fatal road accidents and 18 of the victims were women. In 2016, 20 women were killed in different road accidents, while a total of 79 suffered injuries. Also, Chandigarh traffic police challaned 33,584 people for riding two-wheelers without helmet in 2017. Till date this year, two women, riding two-wheelers, have died.
However, Sikh women wearing a turban have been exempted on religious grounds. The UT has proposed amendment in Rule 193 of the Chandigarh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1990. Presently, the UT exempts all women from wearing helmets besides Sikh men wearing turban.
The notification has specifically mentioned the words “a Sikh woman wearing a turban”, instead of the previous expression which just said a woman in the section talking about exemption from wearing helmets. The administration has given a 30-day period to the public to submit objections and suggestions to the notification.
In March this year, senior administration officers had decided that a draft notification be prepared immediately and suggestions or objections from the public should also be invited on this. Transport Secretary K K Jindal had said that the draft proposal may exempt Sikh women, who wear turban on religious grounds. In Chandigarh Motor Vehicle Rules 90 under Rule 193, total exemption is given to all women/pillion riders from the requirement of wearing protective headgear while driving or riding two-wheelers. The Punjab Motor Vehicle Act extends the exception of helmets to all Sikh women.
The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, makes headgear mandatory for all who are riding two-wheelers, but permits state governments to make relaxation for some categories. It is under this rule that the UT has exempted all women. However, Punjab and Haryana has excluded only Sikh women, though it has not been made clear how they will be identified.