Saturday, February 20, 1999
IF you fell out of a plane on the way down one thought would definitely cross your mind, "wish I had a parachute!"
You wont have much time to think if you leave the seat of your two-wheeler and are headed to make contact with the hard tarmac. But later on in hospital, as you recuperate, you will think "I wish I had worn a helmet!"
A helmet is now mandatory for all two-wheeler riders. (Not for women in certain parts of India) The driver plus the pillion rider. Thats the law. And the law has been passed for very good reasons. Tests around the world have proved conclusively that helmet saves lives.
In case of an accident, the two-wheeler comes to a stop faster than the rider. This means that the rider flies over the handle bars, head first like a diver off a springboard. The diver lands in water, non-resisting and impact absorbing. The tarmac is hard, harder than the skull! Again, tests show that usually the shoulder hits the tarmac first and then the head.
There could be some clothing to protect your shoulder and rest of the body but if you are not wearing a helmet, the face and head will take the full impact of the body hitting the road. And it is often with disastrous results, just as often fatal.
It is a simple matter to buy a good helmet and ensure your personal safety. Avoid the helmet sellers sitting on the side of the road. These helmets are designed to simply get you past the traffic police. They do not have the BIS stamp and in case of an accident will not do the job they should have been designed for. A totally counter-productive exercise. Buy and wear a helmet that will save the head from injury, not one that will satisfy the traffic police. The police also has the right to stop you and inspect if the helmet is BIS approved. If it is not, you will be challaned.
Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, states, "Every person driving or riding (other than in a side car) on a motorcycle of any class or description shall while in a public place wear protective head gear conforming to the standard of Bureau of Indian Standards".
So there you have it. And wearing a helmet is not enough. It must be secured in place by the chin strap. To wear a chin strap which is loose is also an offence. In any case its no use just putting a helmet or hard haton your head without securing it. At the first sign of trouble falling off the two-wheeler the head gear will go flying off, leaving the head unprotected.
Here are some statistics that are truly horrifying. They are from the developed countries, where law enforcement is strict, and rules are obeyed. Eighty per cent of two-wheeler accidents involve persons below the age of 24 and half of these are fatal. These are sobering facts. Every two-wheeler rider should be prepared to face an accident situation every time he or she gets astride the machine.
Other than the insurance which is mandatory according to the motor vehicle rules, a good helmet, protective clothing and gloves are a must.
It may not be out of place to get a separate medical insurance policy to take care of the hospital bills. The normal insurance will take care of repairing the bike. You will still need money to repair yourself!
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