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Friday, December 26, 2008

Malaysia Half-Shell (Kura Kura) Helmets Ban in January 2009

PUTRAJAYA: Half-shell helmets may soon be taken off shelves in motorcycle accessories shops. "They are now seen on roads because there is still a loophole in the Motorcycles (safety helmets) Rules 1973 which does not define a standard helmet," said Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh.

He said the department was in the midst of amending the law to prohibit the sale, distribution and use of the helmets, and it could come into effect as early as January, next year. "The half-shell helmets are illegal and have never been approved by Sirim." But how come they are so many sold in the market now. Something is fishy.

He also said that the department was working out details on enforcement and whether its officers would be able to go from shop to shop to confiscate the helmets. Although Suret was unsure of how the helmets entered the Malaysian market, he reckoned they could be smuggled from neighbouring countries. Really?

He also said that the department had been organising road shows for the past one year to get motorcyclists to exchange the half-shells for an open-face helmet for free. "Malaysians are generally gullible. The helmets have been illegal all the while, but if they are sold in shops, they will still buy them," he said. Well, I could say that people is usually treasure more things that hard to get.

The fashionable half-shell helmets are distinctive by its bowl shape and is a favourite among superbikers for its comfort and light weight. It is, on average, cheaper than the standard open-face helmet. The price of a half-shell helmet starts from RM20, depending on the brand.

However, the helmets tend to flip up with strong winds or when riding the motorcycle at high speeds due to lack of support behind the head. "Wearing a half-shell helmet is as safe as not wearing any helmet at all," said Suret.

According to a local helmet manufacturer, the helmets are still rampantly sold in small towns where enforcement is lax. "Although it is not sold in the open or out on display, some dealers still stock them."

According to a study conducted by the department, 80 per cent of fatalities involving motorcyclists were due to serious head injuries from not wearing helmets properly or wearing helmets not up to safety standards. This includes the half-shell helmet. It is true, I agree with this.

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