Dropping your child off at school? Wear a helmet and make sure your child has one too. Making a quick trip to a grocery story on your scooter, or going to the salon on your kinetic? Grab a helmet. Riding pillion? Use a helmet.
Wearing a helmet while riding a twowheeler should perhaps come as naturally as wearing clothes before stepping out. Several studies have established that wearing a helmet reduces the severity of injuries by at least 70 percent and brings down fatality by almost 40 percent.
In the second part of the series on Save the Helmet Series, HT talks to various experts and doctors about the dangers of not wearing a helmet and why you must not leave home without it. (Read first part here)
Strap it up
During road accidents, people wearing a helmet without chinstrap suffered more than twice the severe injuries as compared to individuals wearing a strapped helmet. This was among the findings of a study conducted by the experts from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) last year, which advises people to wear full coverage helmets with a proper chinstrap are effective in preventing head injury.
The study was conducted on 1,545 road accident patients (1,314 males and 231 females) for nine months. All these patients were brought to the PGIMER emergency with head injuries.
The purpose was to evaluate the profile of head injury cases among drivers or riders and whether they were wearing helmet or seat belt.
Of the total, 1,346 were on two-wheelers and 199 in four-wheelers.
The study found that at the time of the accident, only 13.4 percent two-wheeler riders were wearing a helmet. Only 5.6 percent were females against 14.7 percent males who wore helmets.
The study found that among patients wearing helmet, only 4.8 percent sustained severe head injuries as compared to 23.7 percent patients who were without helmet.
Also, a large number (71.4 percent) of men riding two-wheelers were most commonly injured.
The study recommended that there should be a ready supply of affordable helmets of appropriate quality and strict legislation to ensure safety constraints for road safety.
The study points towards the need to have a law which makes wearing helmet compulsory for two-wheeler riders, irrespective of sex and religion.
The study, “Profile of patients with head injury among vehicular accidents: An experience from a tertiary care centre of India”, was published in the journal Neurology India.
The helmet acts like a barrier for the head and shields the brain from any impact. Skull fractures and brain injuries are the most common causes of death in road accidents involving riders without helmets. Those who survive a brain injury run the risk of losing a number of body functions.
WOMEN NEED TO BE MADE AWARE, SAY EXPERTS
With women being the largest segment of pillion riders, who seldom wear helmets, there is an increasing need for more awareness drives and shifting the focus on this group, say road safety experts.
Navdeep Asija, traffic adviser, Punjab, and founder of Eoabs, told HT, “Helmets and seat belts are the two most important interventions that have the capacity to reduce fatalities by 40 percent to 45 percent.” In his advisory to the Punjab government for use of helmets to ensure safety, he had also suggested that social media help be taken to identify violators through public participation in various cities like Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar. Now this initiative is bearing success. “People are asked to post photographs of traffic violations along with number plates of vehicles to WhatsApp number or Facebook page of the local traffic police, who then initiate action,” he stated.
Experts agree that the only other way to reduce deaths among two-wheeler drivers is a public campaign to promote the importance of wearing helmets and introducing ways to ensure that riders buy helmets that are certified.
That roadside, low-cost helmet won’t save your head
Cheap, poor-quality helmets are not hard to come by in India, not even in Chandigarh. These lowpriced helmets starting from 100 on the roadside may help one save some money, but one may end up losing one’s life.
These fragile helmets, which look like caps made of thin plastic and sponge with attached elastic straps, do not provide the required protection in case of an accident. With no minimum quality standards, helmets have been reduced to an accessory needed simply to escape cops.Road safety experts and residents have been emphasizing the need for good quality helmets. “It is easy to blame the shopkeepers on the roadside selling heap helmets, but one can’t deny that people buy them,” said N.
It is believed that besides accidents, these low-quality helmets barely manage to survive the force of a fall.
Deepak, a roadside vendor who sells low quality helmets opposite the market in Sector 19, said, “People from the canteen come and buy the maximum number of helmets from us and sell them there. Then, who can tell these are not the good quality ones.”
His friend, Raman, who had put up his stall on the other side of the road, said the sale had gone down thanks to demonetisation.” As it is, the sales are higher during summers. Now due to the note ban, we haven’t been selling much. Earlier we had people from all age groups coming and buying in bulk.”
Eish Singhal, SP, traffic, Chandigarh, said, “The problem was most prevalent among city youngsters outside schools and PGs. The government cannot ban these helmets since everyone’s socio-economic status varies. However, since it is a one-time investment, one should buy good quality helmets.” Various NGO such as Tammana have been collaborating with UT traffic police to carry out awareness drives and distribute good quality helmets.