Soon, pillion riders of two wheelers will have to compulsorily wear helmet. As the new rule is yet to be implemented, it has been ridiculed by many. Before joining the hue and cry and against the helmet rule and beginning to deride it, one should first look at some facts. Last year alone, around 4,000 road accident deaths were reported in Kerala. The count of those injured and admitted to hospitals in such accidents is even more.
Two-wheelers account for the most number of road accidents. Though careless and rash driving is the cause of most of these accidents, head injuries form the single largest reason for the majority of road accident deaths. Therefore, all two-wheeler users should wear helmets. No excuse can justify not wearing a helmet and thereby ignoring one’s own safety. One should not only wear a helmet to avoid being fined by the police but also to protect his or her head from fatal impacts during such accidents.
Our body is designed in such a way that it can stand small impacts upon a fall. But in this age of speed, the falls are generally grave and their impacts big. Not wearing a helmet, just because one rides a two-wheeler at slow speeds is no justification. A fall from a two-wheeler even at such slower speeds can cause head injuries.
(Did you know this?) Imagine a motorcycle travelling at 55 km per hour. This means that the bike is covering 49 feet per second. The impact from a fall from the bike at this speed will be equal to that of a fall from the fourth floor of a building.
This simple fact should prevent people from looking for a thousand excuses to avoid wearing a helmet.
The purpose of helmet
Helmet is the safety armour for the head. Like the skull protects the brain from impacts, the helmet protects the head. Though there are different types of helmets, their structure is almost the similar.
A helmet has three layers. The exterior layer or the shell is made of thermoplastic fibre glass, the middle layer is made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) that absorbs the shock and the innermost layer is made of sponge and cloth that is meant to provide comfort to the user.
The shell of the helmet that is made of fibre glass breaks upon impact, thereby reducing the intensity of the shock. The thermoplastic layer conducts the shock to the middle layer made of EPS. By doing so, a helmet protects the users head to a great extent. It is scientifically proven that a good helmet can reduce the force of impact by 300g. This means that a helmet can almost save a person’s life. An impact of 50-75g can affect eyesight and can cause a chronic head ache.
How to select a good helmet
Helmet standards are different in different countries. In India, helmet manufacturers are required to get an ISI approval. Helmets with ISI approvals come with ISI marks on them. One should buy helmets only from authorised dealers. There are more than 150 registered helmet manufacturers in the country. Helmets ranging from Rs800 to up to a few lakhs of rupees are available in the market. One should always keep in mind that settling for a low quality helmet to save on money is not a good idea and should always go for good quality ones. Never buy them from roadside vendors. One should always know that it is more important to save one’s life than to avoid getting booked for not wearing a helmet.
It is preferable to go for a helmet that covers the full face. Full helmets not only protect the head but also the jaws and the face. (A must read for ardent bikers) One should replace the helmet in every three years and not get attached to one helmet.
A helmet that has once saved you must have suffered internal damages as it absorbed majority of the impact. These damages may not be visible to the eyes. One should dispose of a helmet that was involved in an accident and buy a new one.
Many people complain that wearing a helmet causes hair fall, muffles sound of the traffic, causes neck pain. Some other excuses include unbearable heat inside it and hampered visibility. But are these excuses more important than life?