Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Use your head before heading for that helmet

Use your head before heading for that helmet
Deccan Herald

Helmets might be cheaper on the roadside but it might not be such a great idea when it is likely to break into halves if dropped.

It’s time to think of your head, whether you like it or not! Following the Government’s decision to make helmet wearing mandatory from June, even for pillion riders, helmet sale has again boomed in Bangalore. But this has kicked off a new debate — on the safety standards of helmets.

It’s not only companies or branded sellers who offer the ISI (Bureau of Indian Standards) mark, vendors on footpaths, who have suddenly cropped up in large numbers, are also flaunting it. Result: Motorists, completely confused, end up buying sub-standard quality helmets at exorbitant prices.

But helmet manufacturers and shop owners now claim to have hit upon a solution. Serial numbers, along with a section of the ISI Act, is now inscribed on helmets, which they believe cannot be imitated. “Even if local or non-ISI helmets have the mark, it is just a sticker. But these vendors fool the customers by showing this mark,” Marketing Manager of Volga Helmets Sanjeev Naik pointed out.

Customers should, therefore, verify that the mark and serial numbers are inscribed on the helmet, and are not plain stickers (no matter where they buy it). “People are ignorant about the ISI mark, therefore they get cheated,” Naik added.

One may escape from the eyes of the police by wearing non-ISI helmets, which are available at a lower price, but be prepared for side-effects. It can cause neck pain and hair loss, as these helmets are made using cheap quality materials and are comparatively heavier than branded ones. “The minimum and maximum weight of an ISI helmet is 600 grams to 1,200 grams respectively,” informed Proprietor of Balaji Helmet Palace R Ramesh.

According to Mr Ramesh, wearing such helmets is useless as they easily break and cannot withstand any pressure. “Local helmets are made out of charcoal and sand so they weigh more. They break into two halves if dropped on the ground,” he added.

No ISI for minors

Though some companies are manufacturing “baby helmets” (of a smaller size), Section 4151 of ISI Act has no mention of it.

The Act approves helmets meant only for majors, and not minors. In other words, ISI mark can be used for helmets within the size range of 500 cms to 629 cms, a helmet dealer said.Joint Commissioner of Transport Department R V D’Souza stressed that as per the rules, only ISI marked helmets should be used by riders. “But we cannot take any action against those selling locally-made helmets, as it is not regarded illegal as yet,” he pointed out.

As for helmets meant for minors, he said a suitable decision will be taken once specifications are drawn under the new rule.

“If there is no provision for minors, appropriate action will be taken,” he added.


ISI mark, Section 4151 and serial number should be inscribed on helmet.

Should be light weight.

Lining material should be of good quality.

Avoid buying on footpaths.


Average weight : 600 to 1,200 grams.

Local helmets weigh even 2,000 grams.

Average price (ISI mark) : Rs 400 to 1,500.

Local helmets are priced between Rs 100 and Rs 300.

Full face helmets are safer.

Heavy weight does not mean it is safer.


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