UN partners Road Safety Advocate: Helmets for Hope aims to save lives

To achieve its goals, ‘Helmets for Hope’ takes a multi-pronged approach that combines legislative measures, economic incentives and public-private par
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The United Nations has teamed up with road safety advocate Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director of Steelbird Helmets and President of the Two-Wheeler Helmet Manufacturers Association in India, for an initiative called "Helmets for Hope.
Uber bike taxi
The United Nations has teamed up with road safety advocate Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director of Steelbird Helmets and President of the Two-Wheeler Helmet Manufacturers Association in India, for an initiative called "Helmets for Hope.

Road traffic accidents remain a leading cause of death globally, with a disproportionate impact on young people, particularly motorcycle riders. Recognizing this grim reality, the United Nations has teamed up with road safety advocate Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director of Steelbird Helmets and President of the Two-Wheeler Helmet Manufacturers Association in India, for an initiative called “Helmets for Hope".

Led by Jean Todt, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road Safety, and Indian road safety advocate Kapur, Helmets for Hope proposes a comprehensive strategy to significantly reduce motorcycle fatalities through widespread helmet use.

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Todt brings a wealth of experience to the table. During his tenure as President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the governing body for motorsport, he spearheaded campaigns promoting helmet use among motorcyclists. Building upon these past efforts, Helmets for Hope outlines a multi-faceted approach that goes beyond mere awareness campaigns.

A multi-pronged approach to helmet safety

To achieve its goals, ‘Helmets for Hope’ takes a multi-pronged approach that combines legislative measures, economic incentives and public-private partnerships. Firstly, the programme pushes for a global mandate on certified helmets for all two-wheeler riders.

This aims to establish a consistent standard of protection across borders, addressing the current situation where helmet laws vary significantly and enforcement can be lax. Recognising the cost barrier of high-quality helmets, the initiative also advocates for reduced taxes and duties, making them more accessible, particularly in developing countries with high motorcycle usage.

Also Read : To curb accidents, International Road Federation wants GST removed on helmets

Additionally, to ensure sufficient supply, ‘Helmets for Hope’ proposes incentives for manufacturers. This could involve reducing regulations, lowering import taxes on raw materials, and potentially even production subsidies. Public-private partnerships are another key element.

The programme encourages companies to dedicate a portion of their CSR budgets towards providing helmets and promoting road safety awareness campaigns. Collaboration with large delivery fleets like Amazon, Zomato, and Swiggy is also crucial, ensuring they equip their riders with standardised helmets.

Also Read : Rapido partners UP Police to distribute over 100 free helmets in Noida

Finally, to guarantee quality and safety, ‘Helmets for Hope’ proposes establishing independent testing labs, potentially in collaboration with NGOs. These labs would verify helmet standards and eliminate counterfeit or substandard products from the market

The "Double Helmet Rule"

A unique proposal within ‘Helmets for Hope’ addresses the safety of pillion riders, often neglected in existing helmet regulations. The initiative proposes a "double helmet rule," requiring two-wheeler manufacturers to provide at least two standardised helmets with every vehicle purchase – one for the rider and one for the passenger. This approach, already implemented in India, can serve as a model for other nations to ensure comprehensive passenger protection.

The UN stated that the success of ‘Helmets for Hope’ hinges on a collaborative effort at various levels. Widespread adoption of these recommendations, including legislative changes and public-private partnerships, is crucial to achieve significant reductions in motorcycle fatalities globally.

Challenges and the road ahead

Despite the programme's comprehensive approach, challenges remain. Building robust enforcement mechanisms for helmet laws, particularly in regions with weak infrastructure, will be critical.

Additionally, ensuring the affordability of helmets and the effective operation of independent testing labs will require sustained commitment from governments and stakeholders.

The programme's focus on standardised, affordable helmets, coupled with its advocacy for stricter helmet laws and increased collaboration across various sectors, has the potential to significantly reduce motorcycle fatalities. Wide-scale implementation of these measures outlined in Helmets for Hope could lead to a substantial improvement in global road safety.

First Published Date: 19 Jun 2024, 06:33 AM IST
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