The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), has announced a partnership with Indian helmet maker Steelbird for its global road safety programme. The motorsport governing body for Formula 1, Formula E, Endurance, Rally, Rally Cross and Karting world championships aims to provide high-quality helmets in those territories where low quality, sub-standard helmets are a problem. Steelbird is one of the largest helmet makers in Asia with a capacity to manufacture 22,000 helmets per day.
Speaking about the partnership, Jean Todt, FIA President, said, "Wearing a helmet is a key issue in road safety. I am happy to welcome Steelbird as a new partner of our Safe & Affordable Helmet initiative. In view of the many qualities of the Indian manufacturer, I am convinced that this collaboration will contribute to the success of our international initiative. Steelbird is committed to offering high-quality helmets at an affordable price which will help in the mass adoption of the helmets in those regions of the world where it is more needed."
Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director, Steelbird Helmet said, "We are proud of our association with FIA as we have out beaten other players globally. Moreover, this tie-up also proposes an immense opportunity to step up the safety measures in those areas and zones which remain untouched or low on road safety standards. The territories have been identified by FIA with the objective of increasing the use of helmets while riding a two-wheeler without compromising safety. As a brand, we have worked very hard over the years to not only build our distribution network but also to deliver quality and safety to the riders."
The objective of the programme is to provide high-quality helmets that meet United Nations Regulation 22.05 safety standards in emerging markets. The programme will be conducted with the support of the FIA Member Clubs' worldwide network. Under the partnership, has committed to producing 240,000 helmets per year with a total production capacity by all the partners of 420,000 helmets annually.
Under the UN safety regulations, the helmet needs to be comfortable in hot and humid climates and available a target selling price of $20 (around ₹ 1500). The FIA Safety department that is usually tasked with developing safety equipment for competitions, has used its expertise to develop these helmets.
This is particularly important in markets where the population is largely dependent on two-wheelers for transportation. In several markets, the hot climate and high purchase price of a good quality helmet are often deterrents for motorcyclists from buying good safety gear.
The FIA Safe and Affordable Helmet Programme aims to contribute towards reducing motorcycle-related fatalities with helmets being one of the most basic safety gear for every two-wheeler rider and pillion. The release states that head injuries among moped riders and motorcyclists can be reduced by 44 per cent by wearing a helmet, according to research.
The FIA and Steelbird partnership is the second of such kind and is part of the FIA Safe & Affordable Helmet initiative. The project recently received the support of the Keep Fighting Foundation, founded by the family of former F1 driver Michael Schumacher with the donation of 5000 helmets.