Non-ISI helmets to become illegal in two months
The ministry of road transport and highways has issued a new notification on August 2, 2018 to stop manufacture, stocking, and sale of two-wheeler helmets that do not meet the standards set by the Indian Standards Institute (ISI). So any helmets without ISI certification will become illegal and hence banned from sale two months from now. This includes foreign-make helmets imported directly into the country without being tested for ISI-conformity. And those found to be in violation of the notification could be arrested and face a jail term of up to two years or a fine of Rs 2 lakh. This will impact the sale of international helmet brands including Arai, AGV, HJC, and Shoei in the country.
Incidentally, the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) only recently introduced new standards for two-wheeler helmets. The renewed standards suggest a helmet should weigh less than 1.2kg as against the earlier weight limit of up to 1.5kg. BIS has also prescribed a new set of tests to be conducted for all helmets to be sold in India.
Tests now include impact absorption test with more and different impact points. Side-impact tests now include varying temperature and humidity, as also tests for abrasion resistance, retention system effectiveness, micro-slip test, and quick-release test.
It is a good move for the Indian standards body to wake up to changing safety standards. It will also help improve the safety parameters of Indian helmets. However, not permitting helmets from foreign makers that do meet multiple international safety regulations and standards including SHARP, ECE, Snell, and others seems counter-intuitive, as these are the helmets that secure even top motorsport athletes in the country and outside.
And along with the helmet standards being made more stringent, a similarly drastic approach may also help in the enforcement of the law for mandatory use of helmets while riding two-wheelers. Because the application of higher standards will only work if the safer helmets they lead to are actually utilised by two-wheelers riders.