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.
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.
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.