India is the second largest market for two-wheelers in the world. Being so close to leadership in terms of numbers and with two-wheelers being the preferred mode of transport for over a hundred million Indians, one would tend to think that enforcement of basic safety laws would be stringent. A helmet is the most basic, simple and yet effective safety device that a two-wheeler rider can use to protect him or herself. The helmet only protects the head, but the need to protect that part of our anatomy hardly needs to be re-emphasised.
With the increase in the number of Road accidents wearing a good helmet is an absolute must, even if it is uncomfortable during peak summer months and even if the two-wheeler is being taken out to the nearby place. The rate at which the number of two-wheelers in India is rising is 20 times the rate at which the human population is growing. In such a scenario, fatalities are only going to rise if things do not change fast. A study has found that individuals wearing a helmet without chinstrap suffered severe injuries in road accidents more than twice as compared to individuals wearing a strapped helmet. Accident victims who have had serious head injuries rarely get back to normalcy even after surgery. Helmets with visors also protect the rider’s eyes from debris and small insects, which can often turn out to be accident-causing distractions.
The enforcement of safety laws such as a compulsory helmet use tends to be extremely lax in many parts of the country. Two-wheeler riders are almost twice as likely to be injured grievously from an accident as compared to car passengers. Unfortunately, there are many two-wheeler riders who choose to ride without a helmet. Statistics shows that compliance, even in states where a compulsory helmet law exists, tends to be lower amongst women. There are innumerable stories of road fatalities, which could have been avoided if the riders were with wearing helmets.
The third key part of the helmet is the cushioning. High quality sponge and woven cloth is used to create padding for covering the key areas of the head that are prone to injury in the event of a fall. The keys spots that are swaddled by the cushioning are the temples, ears, back of the head and the area just below the eye-sockets. The last component of the helmet that is equally important is the restraint or clasp that holds the helmet in place around the wearer’s head.
There are few myths that are commonly associated with wearing a helmet. Some think that it leads to hair loss but there is no scientific proof for this. Some think that a rider is not able to hear properly but in fact helmets help rider to hear well by cutting wind noise. It prevents neck injuries in the event of fall, thus preventing fatal head injuries. The risk of death is nearly 2.5 times more among riders not wearing a helmet compared with those with a helmet. Among helmeted patients, only 4.8 per cent suffered severe head injuries, compared to 23.7 per cent without helmet patients. Only full coverage helmets were effective in preventing head injury. People do not realise the seriousness of the issue unless they get victimised. Society should be concerned about whether a two-wheeler rider uses a helmet or not.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)