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Please Heed! Road Safety Warnings for Women in India!

October 14, 2012

photo by Julian Weyer

This is not an uncommon sight in India.  Men on motorcycles wearing crash helmets and women passengers at the back — with no helmets!!!  There is a good reason for this…and it is in the traffic laws of India.

Under India’s laws women and children on two-wheelers are not required to wear helmets! 

Though the government of India has under international pressure agreed to change this law, it is still hard for most states to enforce it.  In August 2012 a senior police officer in the city of Bhopal said,The traffic police cannot fine any woman riding a two-wheeler without helmet as they have been exempted. We have clear orders not to stop women driving without helmet.”

A public drive started to get women riders and passengers on two-wheelers to wear helmets in the cities of  Bhopal and Indore in 2011 died down because someone actually challenged the goal of the drive in court!!  A senior officer at the police headquarters said, “The question of making women wear helmets was challenged in the court soon after the drive was launched. The petitioner argued that the Madhya Pradesh Motor Vehicle Rules 1994 and Motor Vehicle Act 1988’s Section 129 makes it clear that mandatory helmet wearing shall not apply to any woman or a child not above the age of 12 years.”

Thus this is a common sight in India.  Women passengers AND riders on 2-wheelers with NO crash helmets!! Even children when riding behind their mothers wear no helmets. And as one of the photos below shows even school girls don’t seem to be taught the need for safety helmets in school!!


photo by Anna Marija Bulka

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

photo by Mayank Austen Soofi


photo by Retheory

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

photo by Mayank Austen Soofi

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

photo by Mayank Austen Soofi

























The World Health Organization reports that wearing a helmet reduces your risk of injury by 70% and chances of getting killed in case of an accident by 40%

Below is another road safety hazard women in India are subject to:

Mujer en moto

photo by David

The woman in this photo is wearing a blue scarf that is flying around dangerously. This also happens when women wear saris and ride on 2-wheelers. That scarf can get stuck in a wheel or caught on something passing and can cause a terrible accident. PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT ALL YOUR CLOTHING ARE TIGHTLY TUCKED IN OR TIED AROUND YOUR WAIST AND ARE NOT FLAPPING AROUND. Also notice this woman’s shoes. They are open toed slippers with heels. It is a very unsafe and unstable position to drive and navigate traffic in. THIS DRIVER CAN EASILY LOSE CONTROL OF HER VEHICLE AND CAUSE A LOT OF INJURY TO HERSELF AND TO OTHER PEOPLE ON THE STREET. Please carry your fancy shoes in a bag, and for the driving keep a pair of well strapped, or laced, flat heeled, comfortable shoes.

And finally below — a picture of what we HOPE will become a common sight in India!

Life and death on the streets of Delhi

photo by Vishal Majithia

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS: The photographers whose pictures appear here are supporting members of The 50 Million Missing Campaign’s Photographers Group on Flickr  which is supported by more than 2400 photographers from around the world.   To see more of each of their works, please click on the pictures.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Adrian Delfino permalink
    October 31, 2012 4:42 am

    Saw footage in film, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, showing females riding back seat of two-wheelers without helmets. Should have been censored or reshot with women wearing safety helmets! Terrible p.r. for India!

  2. Theresa Varghese permalink
    June 18, 2013 12:07 pm

    I do think that facts should be right in an article. In this case, they are not. Nowhere in India is the wearing of helmets gender specific. However, in this country, while it has been made mandatory that the driver wears a helmet, it is not compulsory for the pillion to do so. And since there are more (far more!) male drivers than female, you often see a man with a helmet and a woman without.
    Besides, the compulsory helmet rule is state specific. While some states have made it compulsory, others have not. So you may find women (and men) riding without helmets. I have also noticed that in places where it is compulsory the rule is often flouted, but by men who do not want to spoil their hairstyles (!) not by women.
    The Bhopal case appears to be a one off. I live in Bangalore and let me assure you that if you ride a two wheeler without a helmet, you can be fined.

  3. June 18, 2013 1:08 pm

    Interesting article showcasing all the facts. It’s unfortunate to see people preferring fashion over safety, there are set of people who know about safety but would not adhere to it and then there are who unaware of the consequences. There must a serious effort from automotive companies, governments and public to cooperate and create awareness.
    Some of the companies are already doing many initiatives as highlighted here
    But more needs to be done.

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