Sale of cheap helmets puts riders’ life at stake

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The sale of sub-standard helmets is continuing in the markets of metropolis under the nose of authorities, Pakistan Today has observed.

City Traffic Police and other concerned departments have carried on different road safety campaigns for citizens. During these campaigns, where traffic officials emphasised the citizens to take different preemptive measures during driving, they also urged the bikers to use helmets during riding.

During recent years, road accidents have become a leading cause of deaths in Pakistan. According to a 2014 report by World Health Organisation, 30,310 or 2.69 per cent of people in Pakistan die due to road accidents each year. This means that about 20 people out of 100,000 die in road accidents in a year, ranking Pakistan 67th in the world for a higher percentage of traffic accidents. The report stated that the reason of this high number of accidents was ignorance or violation of traffic rules. This was also highlighted that most of the killed persons during road accidents were motorcyclists and most of them were without helmets.

The Section 69-A of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1965 and Section 239-A of the Motor Vehicle Rules 1969 make a motorcyclist compulsory to use the helmet while riding. However, in Lahore a large number of motorcyclists can be seen without helmets. Interestingly, majority of motorcyclists use sub-standard helmets.

The basic purpose of a helmet is the rider’s safety to protect him from head injury during an accident. The countries where using helmet is the common practice, the helmets greatly reduce injuries and fatalities during accidents.

In Pakistan, with the growing number of motorcycles, it also observed an increase in motorcycle accidents where thousands of people have lost their lives. During the last few years, authorities, particularly in big cities, were trying to implement the law regarding helmet but except Islamabad where this law could not be implemented yet. In Lahore, most of the citizens wear helmets for the safety purpose.

On the other hands, during a survey of Pakistan Today, this has been observed that most of the citizens buy the available helmet regardless knowing their safety standards. These helmets are made of cheap plastic material because of their cheap rates, thus putting their lives at stake.

Lahore Hotel, McLeod Road, Lytton Road and Montgomery Road are the famous markets of helmets in Lahore where helmets are available at a price of Rs 500 to Rs 10,000.

Usman, a helmet seller near Lahore Hotel told Pakistan Today that they did not know what the international standards of helmets were but they sold what they bought from the whole-sale market. He informed that most of the helmets available in Lahore’s market were imported from China and India and he was not able to give guarantee either it will protect the rider in case of accident. Usman further revealed that he was never approached by any person from any authority to test the helmets.

While talking to Pakistan Today, Chief Traffic Officer Rai Ejaz said that the duty of traffic police was to implement the use of helmets on road and not to test the quality of helmets.

However, Rescue 1122 Director General Rizwan Naseer told Pakistan Today that Department of Transport was responsible for monitoring the quality of helmets in Pakistan. He said that this was matter of grave concern and authorities will soon develop some road map in this regard. “The person having helmet even of any kind was at least better than the person without helmet because it was safe to some extent,” Naseer added.