CHENNAI: Kids are expensive. And for parents who have no choice but to ferry them around on two wheelers, they have gotten even more so. The HC order making wearing protective headgear mandatory for everyone, kids included, has meant shelling out more for their kids’ helmets than they did for their own. Atleast, for the minuscule numbers who could lay their hands on one.
Even if a petition for exemption for children, among others demands, is being considered by the court and the police have been lax in enforcing the rule for children, if the court comes down strongly on enforcing the verdict in its current form, children’s helmets are going to become a larger headache than they have been.
For parents, the problem in equipping their children with helmets are two fold. First, the availability of properly designed, kid-sized helmets on the Chennai market are virtually nil. For the thousands of consumers who have been hunting around for helmets over the last few weeks, finding a helmet designed for kids have been impossible.
“These helmets were hardly available in the market earlier because there wasn’t any demand. When demand suddenly skyrocketed due to this order, the few that were there were snatched up. Now, you won’t be able to find any anywhere,” said G Ahmed, a wholesaler on General Patters’ Road. Orders however, have been made, he added and would start arriving in a while. “But they will be expensive, more so than the normal adult sized ones,” he warned.
That brings us to the second problem. Helmets designed for helmets, are as expensive as they are rare.
The few people who have managed to buy helmets for their children have already had to pay substantially more. Ranjith, who bought a helmet for his 10 year old daughter before the rush took prices sky high, had to shell out around Rs 1000 for it. “I bought it on Flipkart and it was quite expensive. I bought mine from a city shop for only Rs 700,” he pointed out. And those prices, even if these helmets are available on the market are a little out of reach for many.
The situation is seeing one or two parents resort to rather creative ways to safeguard both their children’s well being and an impounding of their vehicle documents. Those with bicycle helmets have made their kids don them on their bike rides. But if anything, bicycle helmets are even more expensive than motorcycle ones, good ones retailing at Rs 800 plus and hardly any available for lower than Rs 600.
Some, with no other option, have made their wards wear helmets made for adults - of the smallest size available. It goes without saying that even these adult helmets are extremely large for the average child — making them extremely uncomfortable for the child wearing it and more of a safety hazard than anything else. Honestly, these can be as dangerous as the accidents they want to prevent. Apart from poorly fitting helmets being almost useless when it comes to protection - heavy helmets are uncomfortable at best and unhealthy at worst. “Helmets will obviously have to be designed properly, from appropriate material and fit properly,” stated Dr Ajit Yadav, orthopedic surgeon at Global Hospitals.
However, with no choices, reasonable or otherwise, open to them, parents have had to make do the best they can - and wait for options to open up, if at all there are going to be any.