Monday, June 06, 2016

Helmet wearing should not be compulsory

I am personally of the opinion that Helmet-wearing should not have been made compulsory.
    Madras High Court in one of its judgement has made helmet-wearing compulsory.
I am not much in knowledge of what debate, deliberations and critical points were argued in the honourable court which have led to such a judgement. Through this piece of writing I wish to express my reasoning on why helmet wearing should not be made compulsory.
    We all realize that in India one of the biggest killers of citizens' life is road accidents. Therefore one of the urgent burdens on the government is to take remedial actions to ensure the Right to life of every person, as envisaged in the Art21.
    But the question is where exactly does compulsory helmet-wearing order settle in the pursuit of Art21 duties by our Government ?
   A bad, corrupt government has a habit of shifting the blame of its failure onto the very citizens. Therefore, where the municipal bodies fail to achieve the cleanliness, which may be because of extreme corruption causing pilferage of funds which, in turn, causing failure to provide equipment, lack of expenses to achieve public awareness and education ,et al,  a bad government body would rather seek to shift the blame on the most widely known and therefore most easily digested factor -- the hugeness of human population in India.
   This is a common trend by successive governments, while each of them has been equally bad and suffering from graft,  to assign the causes of policy implementation failures back on the vast population of citizens. Because population vastness is already seen as a root cause, therefore it will find a acceptance by the members of public free from all scrutiny, and therefore saving from expose the corrupt misdoings.
   Helmet-wearing order is, perhaps, one more such a case in point. I dare say thag even a simplest of mind should be able to observe that helmet-wearing does NOT contribute at all in PREVENTING any road accidents; it only helps in reducing the death toll should an accident have already happened.
    The burden of a government is to PREVENT THE ACCIDENTS from their very occurrence, not about snatching the choices of a free citizens. In pursuit of its Art21 responsibilities, we would rather expect decisions and court judgements on safer construction of roads, pedestrian crossing and cross over bridges, road lighting, pits, ditches and sunk holes free road margins, but instead what we see  creating powers for robbing of the free choices of the members of public.
   Can anyone answer as to how much is the percentage of motor bike related incidents in the vast yearly road casualty; and how many of it had the scope for mitigation of loss of life if a helmet was on ? Can a comparison data be produced against those where casualty has happened even with a helmet on ? Can someone mathematically show the effectiveness of helmets in life-saving to be sufficiently high as to prove through a technical reasoning why helmets-wearing should be made compulsory ?
     We know that such technical answer are missing from public space, and possibly because there are no answers.
    Need it be pointed that lorries and motor cars related incidents do not have roles of helmets in them for the obvious reason.
  Then, one needs to question as to what scientific data has led to making helmet wearing compulsory ?
   Perhaps nothing, but power politics game by the civic authorities against the civil society.
   Infact, one of the counter claim on technical grounds has been that helmets tend to reduce the available faculty of human senses , particularly the audibility, and the peripheral vision where eyes have ability to detect objects in motions.
   It can and should be alleged that compulsory helmet-wearing is rather a vicious, vengeful exercise by the authorities to discourage the people from questioning the causes of failures. Additionally, given the amount of corruption, the 'power' so created to stop and inspect a citizen is only going to help the private pockets.
   The civic authorities having failed to put in place all the known and recognized road safety measures, have  played over a mitigating measure, that too, which  essentially has bearing to save life only in a fraction of the total annual tally which our country sees.
    Helmets are undeniably an essential safety gear, but to make them be worn, the force should come through increased personal liabilties on having chosen to not to wear them. Increasing the life insurance premiums is the best available democratic method, not the creation of a police state by empowering the state to inspect a citizen and then to collect fines from an act where no 'wrong' has occured with respect to injury to any person's life, property or dignity.

Summary of why helmet-wearing should not be compulsory:--

it is good to have such a rule...infact i too don't challenge the purposefulness of a helmet.
Question of *making compulsory* deamnds examination on certain other aspects--
1) the role of the state in collecting the fines for failing to do something which does not injure the life,property or dignity of anyone. In short, there is no "wrong"(as understdd in Tort laws), forget about crime.
2) What the government write or omits to write in a law book, (An Act) needs a public scrutiny, i.e. judicial review. There may be no law on pedastrians to cross the road necessarily from a zebra crossing. There may be no law on  *making compulsory*  the construction of crossing bridges.
4) Thus , governments may write such laws where it see scope of making revenue, and wil never write laws which makes something compulsory on themselves.
3) India is plagued with corruption. and Bad governments.
4) Therefore, mechanism to force citizen to wear a helmet should be DEMOCRATIC in its manner, not a police state menthod.
5) premium Insurance or any other means which may increase laibility on the defaulting citizen should be preferred