…for things other than breaking your fall. It's high time you saw the importance of using a helmet, as emphasised by the city cops.

“I am confident about my driving. So why should I wear a helmet?” asks Mayur. Radhika, 25, narrates an incident, which should make Mayur rethink what he just said. It's about a biker cruising down the main road when a buffalo seemingly coming out of nowhere crossed the road. He crashed against the animal, was flung from his bike and landed hard on the road, head first. Though this might sound funny and implausible at first, you will stop giggling when you hear Radhika say, “The doctor said that if only he was wearing his helmet, he could have lived.”

Stats show

This is just one of the 255 motorcycle fatalities in Chennai city in 2010. Of this, 246 riders were not wearing helmets. Once you are done with the math you'll realise that's roughly about 96 per cent.

So now, how confident are you about the buffalo not crossing the road out of nowhere, the car shoving your bike in a bid to overtake, a rash lorry driver applying the brakes on time?

This is not to scare you two-wheeler riders, but a caution and a push to start picking up those helmets and putting them to good use. Especially with the city police stepping up the enforcement of the helmet rule, you do not want to end up paying a fine at every signal. “A look at the statistics of last year's fatalities and up to April this year led us to do this special drive. As a law, the helmet rule has always been a part of the Motor Vehicles Act, and enforcement has been done as a continuous process. But drives like these create awareness and get people to wear helmets,” says Sanjay Arora, Additional Commissioner, Traffic, Chennai City.

After the implementation of this rule, there has been a noticeable increase in the use of helmets by about 40 per cent. Along with being stern, the traffic police and organisations are also trying to promote the habit with kind requests. Public announcements, distribution of pamphlets and placards with snappy slogans are a common feature especially around accident-prone areas.

Stay safe

“We wish, not just two-wheelers, but all motorists would follow basic road manners like sticking to a lane, avoiding rash driving, stopping at the stop line and not drinking and drive. We are not asking you to stop partying. It's your right to enjoy a party. All we are saying is to bring along a driver who can drive you home after the party,” says Arora.

On the other hand there are still a few riders who have qualms about wearing a helmet because it is uncomfortable, offers limited vision and is too hot. In that case, why not look at the bright side like Rakesh. “I have three reasons to wear a helmet. First, to protect my complexion. Second, so that my hair doesn't get unruly because of the wind. And finally the safety factor.” Though third on his priority list, we are happy that it at least features in it.

Here's hoping that you take the hint and make more out of your life that just being a part of the annual statistics…

Choosing the right one

NXg spoke to Naseem of First Edition helmet shop about what to look out for while buying a helmet. Here's what he had to say:

Men usually go for the fully-covered helmets, while women prefer the open-face design.

We always brief customers on the different brands; it's up to them to choose. Generally, one looks for a brand they are familiar with and the ISI certification.

Helmets are generally categorised into premium and economy brands. The economy ones are priced between Rs. 500 and Rs. 700, while the premium helmets range from Rs. 700 to Rs. 1100. There are also designer helmets and the flip series ones that youngsters go for these days, but they are priced on the higher side.

There are people who sell so-called ISI certified helmets priced between Rs. 300 and Rs. 500 on the roadside, but there is no guarantee for safety.

The economy brand of helmets give priority only to the safety feature, while the premium, apart from safety, also give importance to finishing, fabrication, riveting and moulding.

Doc says

Head injuries are what take place most commonly in road accidents and are of three types: external, bony and internal. Occurrences of external injury are rare and cause cuts and bruises. Bony injuries cause fracture of the skull and extra-dural hematoma. Internal injuries occur in 60 per cent of the cases, resulting in concussion of brain, internal bleeding and formation of clots in the brain. Apart from head injuries, neck injuries may also occur. These cause cervical problems and vertebral damage.- DR. FARHAN AHMED, General Consultant Physician

We react

I hate wearing helmets. When I wear a helmet, I can only see what is in front of me. I can never see what comes from the side which makes it very inconvenient. Plus, it is very suffocating to wear a helmet. But now looks like I have no choice.

- AJITH MAHBUBANI, 21, Student

I am an IT professional and work requires my travel to many places. Along my travel I have learned that the helmet rule has been enforced in all the metros and is followed very smoothly. I think it should be strictly followed this time so that we do not lag behind in any way from the other metros.- ROHIN KHANNA, 26, IT professional

More than half the time of my day goes riding my bike but I do not leave my house without my helmet as it is for my safety. I agree they are not too comfortable but the saying goesSafety come first.- RONAK JAIN, 22, Steadfast OverseasImpex

I do not ride a bike but it is good that the rule is back. But I'm not sure for how long it would last. Again the same old bribing would start and people would get away with it. And I think these rules last few days. - PRAGYA BAFNA, 20, M.O.P Vaishnav College for Women

I am very happy to see that the Chennai traffic police has brought back the rule of helmets. It is essential that all riders stick to the rule this time at least. It is high time people realise how important life is and it should be handled with full care. NIKITA, 19, Student

Wearing a helmet has become more of a habit. I feel safe while I have it on. I think it's a good thing that the police are getting serious about the helmet law. Wearing a helmet cannot be a personal choice. eople need to understand the danger lurking on the roads and have to be made to wear it. MOWNICA RAJAKUMAR, 25, Student Counsellor

Inputs from CHANDINI DILIP (M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women) and ANAMIKA SINHA (Pune Women's College, Patna)

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