Your Driving Licence Can Be Suspended Due To Your Helmet-mounted GoPro
Helmet cameras are now banned in Kerala, and will attract a fine of Rs 1,000
Haven’t we all enjoyed capturing footage of our rides down serpentine roads at scenic locations? Well, bid adieu to attaching a camera to your helmet now, as Kerala’s Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) has banned helmet cameras.
An internal circular sent to MVD officials reveals that the penalty for using a helmet-mounted camera is Rs 1,000. It also dictates that the driving licence of offenders could be suspended for three months. As this ban is in the form of a circular, it cannot be challenged in court. However, a legal challenge against this ruling can be initiated once a motorist wearing a helmet with a camera is fined.
This is not the first time the Kerala Motor Vehicle Department proposed a ban against helmet-mounted cameras. Last year, the Kerala MVD asserted that using helmet cameras distracted riders, leading to accidents, and hence proposed to ban them. However, this time, the reasoning behind the ban is completely different.
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The Kerala MVD states that mounting cameras on helmets compromises the structural integrity of the helmet, causing it to perform sub-optimally in the event of a crash. The department further went on to cite examples of a few such instances.
It is a well known fact that riding dangerously on public roads is a menace. Countless videos on social media show many young people trying dangerous stunts, racing and openly flouting traffic rules in their quest to get attention and applause from their peers.
This ban on helmet cameras would affect riders who prefer to have a record of their rides and also have video evidence in case they get into accidents. Dash cams in cars have been a lifesaver during accidents in the past as drivers can use recordings from their cameras to prove onlookers and cops of their innocence.
One plausible solution for riders in Kerala would be to mount the cameras on the motorcycles themselves, as it is unlikely the MVD may object to this. Riders around the globe wear helmets with cameras mounted on them. However, there have been concerns raised about cameras mounted on helmets reducing crash protection. Most race-tracks do not allow helmet-mounted or body-mounted cameras.
In fact, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) – the premier global governing body for competitive two-wheeled motorsport – has banned the use of action cameras on helmets. Also, investigation following F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident in 2013 blamed the action camera mounted on helmet as a contributory factor for the severe head trauma he sustained in the accident.
On the other hand, tests conducted by the external agencies in regulated conditions indicate that helmet mounted cameras absorbed some of the impact during the crash, thus aiding the functionality of the helmet.
Action camera manufacturers, too, assert that the camera mounts are designed to break during a crash, thus preventing the camera from causing any injuries to the rider. However, this statement may have been made to absolve oneself of liability by mentioning that users of such cameras do so at their own risk. Moreover, helmet manufacturers do not recommend mounting action cameras, or for that matter even discourage adding stickers onto crash helmets.
To sum it up, the jury seems quite divided on this issue.