Nikita, a resident of Patna, Bihar, suffered an almost fatal accident when a bike hit her scooter from behind. She was so badly injured that she wasn’t even able to speak or take solid food for three months. It was only after this that Nikita realised the importance of wearing a helmet. “After the incident, I always wear a helmet while riding my two wheeler,” confesses Nikita. However, not everyone is as lucky as Nikita when it comes to surviving head injuries caused due to not wearing a helmet.
Given that in 2014 there were 56 road accidents and 16 resultant deaths every hour in India, saying our roads are dangerous would be an understatement. Flouting of traffic rules remains the primary cause for these accidents, with nearly 25% of them involving two wheelers. One such rule that is often flouted is wearing helmet while driving a two wheeler. A helmet is by far the most effective mechanism for road safety while riding two wheelers; they are to two wheeler safety what seat belts are to four wheeler safety.
Mandatory by law
As far as 3 years ago, some Indian states like Tamil Nadu and Bihar made it mandatory to wear a helmet while driving a two wheeler. A penalty is enforced on offenders in these states. However, the country still sees many two wheelers being driven by riders without helmets. In Odisha, the state government has made it mandatory for two-wheeler dealers to include helmets among the list of accessories while selling bikes. In Bihar, the Nitish Kumar government made helmets mandatory for buying fuel refill, despite this, riding without a helmet has emerged as one of the leading causes of two wheeler road accident deaths in the state’s capital Patna.
The importance of wearing a helmet- in numbers
In a study conducted by the Academy of Forensic Medicine, it was revealed that out of the total number of deaths due to head injuries caused by road accidents involving two wheelers, 74% victims were not wearing a helmet. According to Mr. P.K. Das, traffic superintendent of Patna, a helmet reduces the chances of serious head injury by 80% and fatalities by 50%.
How exactly a helmet provides protection
Most people who wear helmets do so merely because of the fear of law, even if they don’t fully understand the purpose of it. A helmet protects your head from injury in an event of getting thrown off the bike. The first step in preventing injury is minimising the probability of its occurrence; which a helmet does perfectly in case of a head injury.
Helmets are designed to keep the expected impact of the collision within the range of brain’s tolerance. It protects you against concussion and open skull fracture. Brain is one of the most important organs in the human body. It controls our nervous system and is linked to our spinal cord. Together, they control our body’s reflexes and movements. So even if not immediate death, an injury to head could still mean being in a vegetative state for the rest of your life.
The cost of a government approved helmet is somewhere between a thousand to two thousand rupees, which is a small investment compared to the amount you would have to pay as medical bills in case of a severe accident.
Road safety is a lesson we learn every day and for the sake of our loved ones, we must ensure we don’t learn it the hard way.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest"- Benjamin Franklin -
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