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Wearing Helmets – A Choice Between Life And Death

Next time you head out on a two-wheeler without wearing a helmet, stop and think again! A motorcycle crash can result in deadly head injuries that can often be fatal.

Written By: Anisha Bhatia | Edited By: Priyanka Bhattacharya | December 11, 2017 1:32 PM | Features

Next time you head out on a two-wheeler without wearing a helmet, stop and think again! A motorcycle crash can result in deadly head injuries that can often be fatal.

So what exactly happens during an impact injury to the head. Doctors say, when your head hits the pavement or the ground your brain is moves forward, hitting up against the bones inside the skull. It gets deformed and tears nerve fibers. The torn ones cannot heal. When you lose a brain cell, there is no replacement for it. That’s where permanent damage occurs.

William D. Singer, M.D. from Harvard Medical School explains, “People who have an accident like that, and survive, often don’t fully recover. They may lose some intelligence, and the capacity to take care of themselves because of the damage to the system that controls their muscles. They may have a behavior change – have difficulty dealing with other people, and having proper social relationships.”

All this, just because a motorist did not wear a helmet.

India has among the most unsafe roads in the world. In 2015, over 400 people were killed in road accidents every day.
In the same year, two-wheeler accidents claimed 36,800 victims and left around 93,400 injured. Numbers that could have been significantly lower, if riders had proper helmets.

If that statistic are not scary enough, the situation seems to be getting worse every year.

A recent study published by the United Nations suggests that about 15,000 lives across the world can be saved each year, if motorcyclists start wearing appropriate helmets.

Pointing out how two-wheelers are one of the most unsafe modes of transport, the UN Motorcycle Helmet Study says, “Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in a road crash than drivers of passenger cars. Wearing an appropriate helmet improves their chances of survival by 42% and helps avoid 69% of injuries to riders.”

The study also makes a dire projection. Between the years 2008 and 2020, almost 34 lakh people might die of motorcycle crashes. A figure that can be halved with appropriate measures. “As many as 14 lakh of those fatalities can be avoided with the proper use of safety helmets,” the study says.

Wearing Helmets – A Choice Between Life And Death

In India, over 78% of vehicles on the road are two-wheelers and they account for about 29 % of road accidents, a statistic that has risen steadily over the years. – from 26.3% in 2013 to 27.3% in 2014 and 28.8% in 2015.

“Wearing a good helmet and tying it properly can prevent loss of lives in 90 percent of accident cases. We call it helmet vaccine,” says Dr. MC Misra, Director and Dean of AIIMS.

To deal with this situation, the government has started taking strict action. For instance, earlier this year the Maharashtra government implemented a rule that two-wheeler riders would not get petrol at pumps if the rider and pillion are found to be sans helmets.

In Nagpur, traffic cops attached with various police stations in the city adopted novel ways to encourage the two-wheeler riders – they gave roses to people wearing helmets and a challan to those without helmets.

According to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016 which was passed earlier this year, riders caught without a helmet will have to pay a fine of ₹1000 and their driving license will be cancelled for three months. This amendment was a big step, as earlier the fine was only ₹100 only which did not serve as an effective deterrent.

Stringent laws and a strict implementation are the only way ahead to make India’s roads safe.


  1. Wg. Cdr. N.M. Dhavle

    AS a veteran Pilot from the IAF, I have earlier pointed out on this site the following:
    1. Most measures for preventing road accidents and deaths that are being publicised by interested organisations such as NDTV are incorrect.
    2. What causes an accident, first and foremost, is an UNSAFE DRIVER—- WHO DRIVES AT WRONG SPEEDS FOR THE TRAFFIC / ROAD CONDITIONS.
    3. All other measures- Drinking, Helmets, Seat Belts, Dividers, Speed Breakers, Fences- come afterwords.
    4. There were no Helmets and no publicity about Drinking-and-Driving when I was a young man- in 1960’s & early 1070’s- yet there were less accidents in percentage terms.
    5. Where India scores very abysmally compared to rest of the Countries is in the way our Drivers drive – with no regard to law, regulations, road & traffic conditions and discipline.
    6. Unless Driver Licencing at the very beginning is made as strict as in other countries, nothing will help in curbing accidents.
    7. In fact, it is a miracle how there are not more accidents and fatalities given the way Indian drivers drive, especially the two-wheelers!!

    Wg. Cdr. N.M. Dhavle.

    • Sreehari Aranghat

      Very well said sir, The first step should be the push for “Civilized” driving. The sense of driving with social responsibility. This can only be achieved if there is a strict implementation of existing laws and a social push for displaying more civic sense on the road.

  2. Deepak Adyanthaya


    All this hype about death rates going up because of overspeeding,, not wearing seat belts, helmets, etc. is just manipulated by the authorities to cover their faults. The major cause of accidents is poor road engineering, bad maintenance of roads, rampant speed breakers, barricades on highways to regulate speed and other lapses by the govt. To divert attention from these the authorities quote statistics wrongly to lay emphasis on the wrong things and fine motorists on frivolous grounds to increase the income of cops and the govt. Safe driving practices, better discipline on the roads and wider and better roads will do far more to reduce the number of deaths due to traffic accidents. The govt. must first do away with the PUC certificates and take away the rights of cops to fine for not wearing seat belts and helmets. It must then go about concentrating on improving roads and quality of execution of public works. Greater accent must be laid on better road discipline and droving practices. This would be a much more sensible approach to solve the problem of deaths on roads instead of blindly increasing fines and harassing motorists.


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