In a recent report, it has been highlighted that road accidents contribute to a substantial 3.14% GDP loss in India. Rajeev Kapur, President of the Two-Wheeler Helmet Manufacturers Association and Managing Director of Steelbird Helmets, has put forth urgent recommendations for immediate implementation to mitigate this economic loss and improve nationwide road safety.
Kapur’s primary proposal is to reduce the Goods and Service Tax (GST) on helmets from the current 18% to 5%. This reduction is considered essential to make helmets more economically accessible, promoting increased compliance with helmet usage among the general population.
Recognising the bottleneck in helmet testing facilities, he advocates for the authorisation of institutions such as IITs, QCI, and NGOs to establish testing facilities. The aim is to streamline the testing process, ensuring helmets adhere to necessary safety standards and are readily available in the market.
To leverage corporate support, Kapur recommends allocating 1 percent of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for road safety initiatives. Corporates would be directed to spend these funds on road safety awareness programs in schools, colleges, villages, and towns. Initiatives like installing signage, rumble strips, speed breakers, and distributing subsidised helmets to lower-income groups are also suggested.
Expressing concern over limited enforcement of mandatory helmet usage rules, the MD of Steelbird Helmets calls for a nationwide extension of this regulation. The rule, applicable in only 8 states currently, mandates two-wheeler manufacturers to supply BIS-compliant helmets at the time of purchase. Uniform implementation across India is deemed essential for consistent road safety practices.
These recommendations, if implemented, aim to address the immediate economic impact of road accidents on India’s GDP and foster a safer road culture. Kapur emphasises the urgency of expediting the helmet testing process by authorising reputable institutions and NGOs to ensure the availability of safer helmets in the market promptly. The collaborative effort of government bodies, corporate entities, and the public is crucial to building a safer and more secure road environment in India.