Traffic police officials in Karnataka are on a new drive, this time against helmets that don’t have the ISI mark. They’re stopping and fining riders wearing non-ISI helmets, and also also half-face/open-face helmets. Cops in Bangalore and Mysuru are also seizing non-ISI and half-face helmets.
According to cops in Bangalore, only ISI certified (helmets that have the ISI mark) are permissible. Also, only helmets that are full-faced ones (the ones that also cover the rider’s chin and jaw) are permissible. Cops add that the seized helmets will be destroyed, and action will also be taken against the sellers of non-ISI crash helmets.
ISI mark! What’s that?
ISI is a certification mark given to a range of products sold in India by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) – a government organization that sets the minimum acceptable standard for all industrial goods sold in India. The ISI mark assures the buyer that the product in question confirms to Indian regulations for quality, safety and performance.
Helmets that have the ISI mark have to go through various stringent tests. For example, the buckle is tested for a load of about 150 kilograms. A locally made non-ISI helmet’s buckle may just support loads of 5 kilograms, and the helmet is almost certain to come off the rider’s head during an accident, rendering it useless.
Also, a non-ISI helmet could be made of sub-standard material making it useless during crashes. Such helmets may not protect the rider against head injuries. This is why cops in Karnataka are insisting that riders and pillions of two wheelers wear ISI certified crash helmets.
There are many reputed helmet manufacturers in India who make ISI certified crash helmets. Some of the prominent manufacturers include Vega, Steelbird, Studds, Spark and Aaron. These manufacturers sells helmets both offline and online. However, it’s highly recommended that you visit a helmet shop, check for fit, and only then purchase a helmet. Buying a helmet with the right fit is critical for safety.
But are all non-ISI helmets bad/unsafe?
Image courtesy Team-BHP
Not exactly. A slew of foreign helmet makers comply with various global quality and safety standards corresponding to their locations of manufacture. For example, helmets from the USA confirm to DOT specifications while those from Europe confirm to ECE specifications. Both DOT and ECE compliant helmets will offer protection comparable to helmets bearing the ISI mark. However, cops in India – many of them ignorant about global standards – may not accept DOT and ECE compliant helmets. So, it’s best that you choose an ISI certified helmet to stay out of trouble from the cops. Imagine a scenario where your expensive AGV helmet imported from Italy, and confirming to ECE spec, is seized and destroyed by cops just because it doesn’t have an ISI mark. Not cool!
Full-face vs half-face/open-face!
Full-face helmets are those you see being worn even in motorsport, and they offer protection not only to the skull (head) but also to the face (jaw and chin). Full-face helmets are obviously safer than half-face helmets, which offer protection only to the skull. It’s always advisable to wear full-face helmets although half-face helmets may be more comfortable and convenient, and even ISI compliant.