CRASH HELMET LAW: WINNING OR LOSING?

by Adewale T. Akande

It is now almost six months plus (precisely January 1) when the Federal Road Safety Commission came out with crash helmet law for all motorcycle and moped riders in the country. The law requires all private and “okada” riders and their passengers to put on crash helmet. This very important law has remained a taboo in some states in Nigeria. People give flimsy excuses for not wearing it and we heard few cases of some motorcycle riders using improvised helmets like empty paint plastic keg or dried pumpkin shells. It is only an approved correctly-fitting-standard helmet that reduces head or neck injury, and increases a rider’s chance of surviving a crash. There is something Nigerians always refuse to understand, law is always meant for a purpose. And the purpose is for the safety of motorcycle riders and all road users.

Wearing crash helmet is now compulsory all over the world. It should not to be seen as a new development but to be taken as road safety habit. As a matter of fact, it is now a serious traffic offence that attracts huge fine and sanctions in some European countries for riding motorcycle or moped without an approved standard helmet. The helmet law is designed to keep cyclist safe since it can reduce the risk of a brain injury by 85 percent. How much is this standard crash helmet will cost a motorcycle rider that is not preferable than getting brain damage or suffer long term or permanent disability due to head or neck injury? “Things which matters most must never be at the mercy of things which matters least” so said by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany’s greatest man of letters.

Motorcyclist and moped riders should know that wearing of approved standard helmets has a lot of advantages apart from reducing head and neck injury from road traffic accidents. An approved standard white or bright colour motorcycle helmet is another solid tool for making riders visible to other road users. This compliments wearing of reflective clothes that will make a rider to be seen in traffic both day and night. Helmets also help to reduce ambient wind noise which consequently brings about fatigue and distracts a rider from concentrating.

A correctly-fitting, well-designed helmet prevents dangers to the ears from indiscriminately horns, sirens and traffic noises. In addition, a helmet with visors and goggles also helps to drive insects, dust and protect the eyes from scorching sun.

Moreover, traffic police officers still have great role to play in strengthening public consensus and embark on more practical ways of enforcing this crash helmet law. They should not relent in their effort for the enforcement of this important safety law with more campaigns in all tertiary institutions as education is an important element to achieve this goal. Effort should be make to create more effective awareness through print and mass media, meeting with motorcycles associations as there is no town or state in the country where we do not have them. And lastly, traffic authority should liase with the community leaders in order to make this crash helmet law a reality.

Adewale T. Akande – the author of “Study and Work Abroad: A Global Directory of Opportunities”,is a Road Traffic Safety Consultant in Alicante, Spain. www.globaleduven.com

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