Helmets soon to become mandatory for children on motorbikes

The use of safety harnesses and helmets will soon become mandatory for children on motorcycles as the Union government plans to amend the Motor Vehicles Act in order to increase the safety of children on all two-wheelers. The ministry of road transport and highways has circulated the draft rules that also says the speed of a motorcycle with a child up to the age of four being carried on the pillion shall not be more than 40 kmph.

The proposed changes suggest that the driver of a motorcycle shall ensure certain safety measures while carrying a child between the age of 0 and 4 years on the vehicle as a pillion. For children below four, a safety harness must be used for attaching the child to the motorcycle’s driver.

The draft rules explain that 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 protective gear, including the safety harness, shall meet the requirements/specifications set by the Bureau of Indian Standards. They should be lightweight, adjustable, waterproof and durable; made of heavy nylon/multi-filament nylon material with high density foam; and shall be designed to hold weights of up to 30 kg.

The draft rules also say that motorcycle drivers must ensure the child pillion passenger aged between nine months and four years must wear his/her own crash helmet which fits his/her head or wear bicycle helmet complying with good safety standards.

Going by a report by the road transport and highways ministry, 11,168 children died in road accidents in 2019, which was an increase of 11.94 per cent over 2018. The child fatalities at this rate, which was 31 deaths a day, was almost eight per cent of the total deaths due to road accidents.

The Union government has given one month’s time to citizens to give their own suggestions on these proposals.

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