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To make road travel safer, helmets to soon become mandatory for children on two-wheelers

09:56 AM Oct 27, 2021 | Shashank Rao

In an attempt to make road travel safer, the Central government has amended the Motor Vehicles Act for children riding pillion on two-wheelers. For kids below four years of age, a safety harness must attach the child to the driver of the motorcycle. The driver must also ensure that every pillion passenger aged between nine months and four years is wearing a fitted crash helmet or a bicycle helmet.

According to a recent study by the SaveLife Foundation on road crashes involving schoolchildren, 16 per cent of children agreed that bikers and pillon-riders did not wear helmets while travelling by two-wheelers and 12 per cent of parents also agreed with this observation.

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Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act stands amended by the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019; the ministry has made draft rules dated October 21. “For children below four years, safety harness shall be used for attaching the child to the driver of the motorcycle. The driver shall ensure that the child pillion passenger aged between 9 months and 4 years must wear his/her own crash helmet which fits his/her head or wear bicycle helmet complying with [ASTM 1447]/ [European (CEN)BS EN 1080/BS EN 1078] till such time that the specifications are prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards.”

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“It is a much-needed amendment, as parents aren’t serious about children’s safety while travelling in a two-wheeler. Kids are seated on the fuel tank or between two persons, which is dangerous. The important thing is its implementation,” said A V Shenoy, transport expert and member, Mumbai Mobility Forum.

The safety harness is a vest to be worn by the child, which shall be adjustable, with a pair of straps attached to the vest and forming shoulder loops to be worn by the driver. This way, the upper torso of the child is securely attached to the driver.

The draft rules also mention the specification for the safety harness to be used: it should be lightweight, adjustable, waterproof and durable. Also, it should have heavy nylon/ multi-filament nylon material with high density foam; and shall be designed to hold weight up to 30kgs.

Sources said that the government is also thinking of restricting the speed of motorcycles with children up to 4 years riding pillion, to 40kmph or less. More than 37 per cent of those killed in road accidents in 2019 were two-wheeler riders, according to figures collated by the ministry of road transport and highways.

“We had distributed more than 1,000 helmets for children riding on two-wheelers but now, these are nowhere to be seen. The speeds of two-wheelers ferrying children should also be restricted,” said Nitin Dossa, chairman, Western India Automobile Association.

The draft is now open to the public for sending in their objections and suggestions within 30 days from the date of notification.

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