What used to be a necessity for bikers a few decades ago has now turned to a fashion statement.
The trend of leather jackets/biker jackets and vests worn by a biker was the undeclared uniform that every person riding a motorcycle was supposed to wear. People in foreign countries still see it as a compulsion to wear a leather jacket and a helmet as those two are the ultimate protection from road rashes. But in India, we have a different situation.
Two wheelers (or bikes/scooties) are the most popular mode of transport in India. It is an affordable option and is a means of daily commute for millions. However, at many times two wheeler riders in India don’t wear helmet. Thus, it is very common for Indians to get slapped with traffic challans for not wearing a helmet every now and then.
Today, we are going to learn more about these helmet fines in different parts of India.
But First, Why Wear a Helmet While Driving?
It is solely for the driver’s own safety. Due to the naiveness of the public, the government had to take legal steps to make it a compulsion.
A good quality helmet can protect the rider’s head if met with an accident. A study showed that motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of death by 37%.This means that almost 4 out of 10 motorcyclists would be saved if they develop a habit of wearing helmet.
The Rule of Wearing a Helmet
The Government of India has, since the Motor Vehicle Act 1939, implemented the law of wearing a protective head gear while riding a motorcycle. The rule for compulsion of helmets was stated in the Motor Vehicle Act 1988 in section 129.
Later, in September 2019, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 was passed where the new rules were implemented regarding road safety of two-wheeler and four-wheeler drivers.
Earlier, the people driving a motorcycle without helmets were charged with small fees; if they got caught by the traffic policemen. To make them aware of the seriousness, the 2019 Amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act came with a new fine which had a significant increase as compared to the old one.
In a detailed report published by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in 2018, the annual deaths in 2017 due to non use of helmets in two-wheeler was 35,975 (driver: 21,095 + pillion: 14,880). That grew by 17% in 2018 and became 43,614 (driver: 28,250 + pillion: 15,364). The highest number of deaths were reported in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
India accounts for almost 11% of total road accident deaths globally, given the fact that India is second most populated country in the world. Since three consecutive years, young adults aged between 18-45 years have accounted for almost 69.6% of the total road accidents. (Total road accident includes all road transports like bike, car, heavy vehicles etc.)
About 29% of deaths was due to non use of helmets in two-wheeler.
These were enough reasons for Government of India to take concrete yet immediate step to lower these numbers, thus a heavy fine was implemented when breaking traffic rules, including for not wearing a helmet.
The Fine for Driving Without a Helmet
Though there already was a fine for people who drove without helmet. But since it was a nominal charge, many people got away easily. This was one of the major reasons for implementing new rules by charging more fine.
The disobedience of traffic rules by not wearing a helmet would earlier lead the driver to a penalty of Rs.100 but now it has been increased to a fine amount of Rs.1000 and a disqualification of license for upto 3 months.
Many times public used to bribe to get out of such muddles. Although after the new rules being effective from September 2019 in the nation, such muddles have now long gone.
Now, when a person gets caught for breaking the traffic rule, an E-Challan is generated under his name with his registered vehicle number. From here, his name is recorded electronically with the Government.
The E-Challan services are introduced with a motive of keeping things clear and easy for the government. A person that gets penalized for not wearing a helmet receives an eChallan by the traffic policeman and has options of either paying the chalan amount online or offline.
If he wants to pay the challan amount offline, he has to go to the nearest traffic police station and pay the amount there. He can also pay it online by going to the Ministry of Road and Transport website to pay the penalty fees.
State Rules Regarding Penalty
All of the Indian states have undertaken the responsibilities of their part and have started rigorous implementation of the revised traffic rules. The following states have dealt with high number of road accidents over the years and thus now have stringent policies for without helmet fines.
Maharashtra – Rs. 500 fine
The amount for driving without helmet challan in Maharashtra used to be a mere Rs.100 which was revised to Rs.500 in the Amendment 2019.
The penalty goes for both i.e. the driver and the pillion. Along with this, the person has to sign up for community service of upto 3 months and can get license disqualified for the same period.
Uttar Pradesh – Rs. 1000 fine
Uttar Pradesh has recorded the highest number of road accident deaths in the country. It has been rated the second highest in the number of road accidents by a state.
The rider that drives without a helmet in UP has to face a charge of Rs.1000 and a disqualification of driving license for a term of 3 months.
Tamil Nadu – Rs. 1000 fine
Tamil Nadu state has the highest number of road accidents in India, taking first spot in the list. To prevent this, the fine for driving without helmet has been raised to Rs.1000 from Rs.100.
The penalty also includes license scrapping for a matter of 3 months. The Tamil Nadu State Government is looking out to curb the increasing rate of road accidents by imposing heavy fines on disobedience of traffic rules.
Rajasthan – Rs. 1000 fine
A fine of Rs.1000 is imposed in Rajasthan. The government is also looking out for the sentiments of its people and hence some other traffic rule Amendments have not been imposed in Rajasthan for the time being.
Fun Fact: The Rajasthan State Government has tried providing an ISI marked helmet for free if the rider was caught without a helmet as reported by The Times Of India. Although, this practice was only done for a few days to earn recognition.
Gujarat – Rs. 500 fine
The renewed laws of Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 were effective from September 1, 2019. But, Gujarat was one of the states that pushed the date of effectuation of rules back saying that its citizens needed some time to get acquainted with the new rule book.
Although the Gujarat Government reduced the stipulated fine to Rs.500 for not wearing helmet, the traffic controls have been stringent in the state unlike the earlier scenario.
Bihar – Rs 1000 fine
Bihar has imposed a fine of Rs.1000 when riding without helmet and scrapping of the license for 3 months.
The Bihar Traffic Police have however found a new way to deal with the situation in some of their cities. Instead of imposing heavy charges on the person, they direct them to the stalls selling helmets near the checkpoint and are asked to buy one. They have adapted the same solution for people driving without insurance. This way people aren’t being presented as offenders and are given a chance to correct the situation.
Madhya Pradesh – 1st fine Rs 100, 2nd/subsequent fine Rs 300
Madhya Pradesh State Government has not implemented the new changes in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 as of now. They will first study the effects of the new rules on different states and then decide the next steps for their own state.
Therefore, the old penalties for riding without a helmet is still applicable for both driver & pillion.
The first time offence charges are Rs.100 and if the person is caught again, then the charges rise to Rs.300. The new fine of Rs.1000 has not yet been implemented in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Punjab – Rs 1000 fine
The Punjab State Government had the same views as the Madhya Pradesh State Government on the application of new rules of MV Act 2019 until 18th December, 2019. The new rules were effective from 19th December, 2019 in Punjab State which were aligned to the MV Act penalising the offenders a fine of Rs.1000 for not wearing a helmet.
Kerala – Rs 500 fine
The Kerala State Cabinet has reduced the stipulated amount of fine for the offenders not wearing helmets while driving. The original amount of Rs.1000 has been reduced to Rs.500 for the offence of riding without helmet. Other similar traffic rule fines have also been reduced by the state government in Kerala.
Unless people recognize the imposition of such strict laws as a matter of their own safety, they would keep opposing it. This would force the government to find new ways to control road safety. It is indeed a sad condition for the nation to be in where it has to deliberate discipline in its citizens.
However, change starts at home. So, let’s all start being responsible for our own well-being and not drive on the road without a helmet.