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Helmets For Child Pillion Riders: Parents Choose Price Over Safety

12/05/2022 07:52 PM

By Ahmad Aidil Syukri Hamzah & Nur Afiradina Arshad

Now that face-to-face school sessions have resumed, children riding pillion on motorcycles without wearing proper safety helmets have become a familiar sight. This second of a three-part article delves into why parents and guardians prefer to buy ordinary plastic or toy helmets for their children to wear.

 

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – More than 20,000 units sold. That is the estimated number of children’s helmets sold on a popular e-commerce platform.

Unfortunately, those helmets enjoying lucrative sales have not been approved for use by SIRIM, Malaysia’s leading certification, inspection and testing body. Worse still, parents are also snapping up toy helmets for their children to wear when riding pillion on their motorcycles.


An investigation by Bernama found that the helmets supplied to the e-commerce site concerned were from 20 vendors. -- google image & screenshot

An investigation by Bernama found that the helmets supplied to the e-commerce site concerned were from 20 vendors, many of whom told Bernama most buyers choose toy helmets to “protect their children’s head”.

Bernama reporters disguised as buyers spoke to several vendors and their conversations revealed that misrepresentation of facts could be contributing to the purchase of helmets that don’t bear the SIRIM safety mark.

Bernama’s findings beg the question of why uncertified “safety gear” is widely available in the market, particularly on e-commerce sites.

 

CHEAP AND ATTRACTIVE

As one of the vendors nonchalantly told Bernama, “No one gets fined if their child wears this (type of) helmet. Moreover, children’s helmets don’t have the SIRIM mark, while the toy helmets are of free size. Children aged from three to six can wear them.”

Said another vendor: “These helmets are all okay. Many of our buyers choose the Spider-Man pattern.”


-- https://www.walmart.ca

He was referring to toy helmets plastered with pictures of famous Marvel comic superheroes and cartoon characters which, obviously, are popular among parents shopping for a “safety” helmet for their children. According to the vendor, these helmets are sold for as low as RM20 each.

A check at several toy retail outlets located at Jalan Raja Laut, here, also revealed that parents and guardians are buying toy helmets for their children to wear while riding pillion with them.

According to a salesperson at one of the toy stores, parents prefer buying toy helmets as they are lighter and more comfortable for their children to wear.

Priced at between RM35 and RM45, the toy helmets are cheaper than the SIRIM-approved ones which cost around RM65 each.

 

VARIOUS COLOURS, MODELS


Prof Dr Kulanthayan KC Mani.

Road safety expert Prof Dr Kulanthayan KC Mani said it is sad many parents seem more concerned about prices and attractive designs than safety when buying a child helmet.

“They don’t seem to care… they assume that as long as their children are wearing ‘something’ on their head, they are going to be okay,” he told Bernama.

Bernama reporters managed to examine several toy helmet models said to be selling well at the Jalan Raja Laut toy shops and found that they were made of plastic that’s easily breakable. Naturally, they are no match for the SIRIM-certified models that have all the safety features to protect the wearer against serious head injury should they fall on a hard surface in the event of a crash.

A salesman at a shop selling motorcycles and accessories in Sentul here, who only wanted to be identified as Ali, said many parents don’t buy proper safety helmets for their children even though they cost only about RM65 each, preferring the cheaper ones instead.

Although “not as attractive” as the toy ones, the SIRIM-certified helmets come in various colours and models too, said Ali.

“For safety’s sake, the RM65 price tag is not too steep. Our shop only sells helmets that bear the SIRIM mark, otherwise, legal action can be taken against us,” he said, adding that child safety helmets can be worn by children aged five and above as they have the physical strength to support the weight of the helmet.

“But kids below five may not be able to bear the weight of the helmet.”

However, Bernama found that most motorcycle shops offering SIRIM-certified child safety helmets keep limited stocks.

Kulanthayan sees the limited stocks as one of the factors driving parents to buy toy helmets or other models that don’t have the SIRIM mark.

 

NO ENFORCEMENT


Photo for illustrative purpose. -- fotoBERNAMA (2022) COPYRIGHT RESERVED

“Stocks are limited because of the issue of demand and supply. When demand is low, retailers will reduce their stocks as well.

“Even so, there are parents who want to buy their children helmets that have safety features. But when they find it difficult to get one, they are forced to buy one from a toy shop or e-commerce site. That’s why helmets are widely available in online stores,” said Kulanthayan.

Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (FOMCA) deputy secretary-general Nur Asyikin Aminuddin said the issue is getting out of hand due to the lack of effective enforcement.

“In my view, items like these (plastic helmets without safety features) are actively being sold on online platforms due to the absence of a mechanism to regulate traders operating on digital platforms. The government must introduce legislation to regulate these digital (e-commerce) platforms.

“At present, there is no agency to regulate online selling activities, thus allowing any product, even an unsafe one, to be sold openly,” she said.  

Asked to comment on this, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry’s Kuala Lumpur director Ariffin Samsudin said monitoring and enforcement activities with regard to online sales will only be carried out if they receive complaints from the public.

“There are no restrictions on online selling, but it is an offence for a merchant to provide misleading information as it’s considered as bait advertising (which is an offence under Section 13 of the Consumer Protection Act 1999) or false or misleading representation (an offence under Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act),” he said.

He added that online traders should also comply with the Consumer Protection (Electronic Trade Transactions) Regulations 2012.   


Public must check the specifications of the safety helmet they intend to buy and also ensure that it is approved by SIRIM.--

Ariffin said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has also enforced the SIRIM-issued safety standards for motorcycle helmets under the Trade Descriptions (Marking of Motorcycle Safety Helmet) Order 2012.

Any individual or company selling safety helmets, whether online or otherwise, without the safety standards approved by SIRIM can be penalised under Section 29 (2) (d) of the Trade Descriptions Act 2011, he warned.

“Individual offenders face a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or a jail term of not more than three years or both. Second-time offenders can be fined a maximum of RM250,000 or jailed for up to five years or both.

“Companies, meanwhile, face a fine of up to RM200,000 the first time they commit an offence. For second-time offenders, the fine can go up to RM500,000,” he said, adding that the public must check the specifications of the safety helmet they intend to buy and also ensure that it is approved by SIRIM.

 

Translated by Rema Nambiar

-- BERNAMA

 

 

 

 


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