A commendable aftermath of the last year’s students’ ‘Safe Road’ movement is that almost all the bikers of different ridesharing companies, including Uber, Pathao, Obhai and Shohoz, now provide helmets to their riders. No, the service providers have not been so conscious about consumers’ safety, rather they are compelled by the law to provide helmets to their consumers. In order to avoid cases, riders provide helmets to their consumers but it is absurd that most of those helmets are just caps what the construction workers use. Passengers of ride sharing services allege that the helmets they are given by the bikers are, poor in quality and not capable to protect their heads and faces in case of accidents. Passengers also complains that most bikers use better helmets than ones they provide their passengers, and most of them keep the ordinary helmets only to show the law enforcers that they are abiding by the law.
Such an unethical practice is certainly on rise due to lack of any proper rules and provisions. Though Bangladesh’s traffic laws make it mandatory for both riders and passengers to use helmets, but there is no mention of any quality measures. Law enforcers opine that they cannot take any action against the use of substandard helmets, as the existing allows action against only those who do not use helmets. Consi
dering this, government should provide guideline and instructions to the traffic polices and sergeants to file case based on the standard of helmets.
Although many countries, including neighbouring India, do have standards for helmet use, there is no such law yet in Bangladesh. In July last year, the Bureau of Indian Standards issued guidelines under which new helmets should not weigh more than 1.2kg, at least 300gm lighter than the previous limit of 1.5kg. The initiative was taken to reduce the number of accident injuries, and bringing down the sale of low-quality helmets. Following India, we should integrate provision on quality and standard of helmet use in road safety rule.
Taking all into consideration, the government should fix specific criteria for using safe helmets and imposing a ban on importing substandard helmets and their use by bikers to ensure their safety as the number of users of the two-wheeler is growing fast. Besides, the ridesharing companies should either provide their driver partners with standard helmets or they should not allow them to enlist bikes who lack at least one pair of high quality helmets.