No longer fine to have child riding pillion without helmet

Mumbai: Be ready to cough up a fine of Rs 500 or lose your driver's licence or have your two-wheeler impounded if you are transporting a child riding pillion without a helmet.

This rule has been in place since last week and will now be religiously enforced by the state transport department, to ensure the safety of school children riding pillion.

Transport commissioner Shekhar Channe said, "The motorist's licence will be impounded and they will face a fine, depending on the offence."

Moreover, it has also been observed that two to three children are being ferried at a time, when traffic rules clearly state that only one helmeted child can be ferried on a two-wheeler, Channe said.

The new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act that came into effect from September 1, makes it compulsory for children to wear helmets. The state transport department has approached the Mumbai Traffic Police to help them in prosecuting the violators.

"We will assist the transport department and the Regional Transport Office in this regard," said Madhukar Pandey, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

A senior traffic policeman said, although bikers are now abiding by the rules and have started wearing helmets, less than one per cent of pillion riders do so.

Lack of enforcement and negligence are among the key reasons for this violation, said the official. Other factors, such as low-quality helmets and the unavailability of helmets designed for children further compound the problem.

A senior transport official said, "It was being observed that parents/guardians who take their children/ward to the school on a two-wheeler do not follow the rule of the pillion rider wearing a helmet.

In the case of school children, they are more susceptible to grievous injuries in a road accident, so by not wearing a helmet, their safety is highly compromised. Hence this rule has been put in place."

On Saturday, a 14-year-old helmetless pillion rider succumbed to his injuries after being run over by a BEST bus. The police arrested the driver for rash driving and negligence.

The Wadala Police said the deceased teen and his elder brother, Raees, 20, were on a motorcycle, when a BEST bus being driven by Nilesh Bodke, 35, ran over the siblings near Barkat Ali Naka in Antop Hill.

While Raees fell on the footpath, his younger brother was crushed under the bus tyre. Both were rushed to Sion Hospital, where the teen was declared brought dead.