Thinking cap: wear a helmet


Spills here, there and everywhere. Aren’t we all well aware but awareness entails action. If you are alert to accidents that are happening daily, are you ready to adopt protection from the deleterious effects of fatal or life-threatening accidents and crashes on the road?

With the rising number of motorcyclists weaving through the jam-packed streets of Phnom Penh, first the strange phenomenon, notably among the population of young bikers and old too, of why some shun the crash helmet.

Allowing for the psychology of riders, notably the fashionable ones who want to keep a meticulous hairstyle intact. Or the ones with glorious manes who want to feel the wind whistling through like in the movies. The elderly may wear a beret, a fedora or baseball cap like Barrack Obama, and cruise around town between cuppa and meals. By the very nature of aerodynamics, hatters obviously do not speed or their headgear would fly off in city driving.

Yet annually many bikers are losing their lives for not wearing the helmet for whatever aesthetic reason but for lack of philosophy between the thin but tested hard shell separating the fragile head and road tarmac.

If not death, then severe injury, trauma, and loss of scalp and hair could be the result.

The global status report on Road Safety 2013 estimates that more than 2400 people are killed in road traffic crashes in Cambodia every year. Motorcyclists make up 70% of all these. (Source: World Health Organization.)

The government is doing its best by implementing laws for compulsory wearing of motorcycle helmets. They provide proactive and preventive ways through the enforcement of helmet standards. With all these done and sundry, the decision for action still lies with the biker.

As the theory goes, every motorcyclist should be disciplined enough to obey the rules for their own protection. Meaning, wear the helmet whether it takes mere minutes or hours riding home, school-bound, or flitting to the mini-market or picking up someone nearby, on any type of road and highway. Even if the laws where you live are not strict, it takes discipline to make it a habit of wearing one.

It is essential to understand the magnified risk of no helmet, leaving the naked head exposed to concussion when an accident knocks on your door. Or your head. And the brain for human functioning. A serious injury could be long-term, disabling and extremely costly to fix if nothing more.

The numbers don’t lie. Stats show helmets can save lives and reduce trauma. The point is that accidents do occur. Motorcycles do not provide structural protection as in a sheltered car with air bags.

Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injury.

It is substantial to note as well that wearing the right fitting helmet is as vital to wearing one. Or you get a false sense of security. Hence, choosing the right helmet is being practical.

But people being people, there are reasons upon reason like, “I’m not comfortable because it’s hot.” “I don’t want to mess up my hair.” “It’s only a short distance, or the cops will not catch me.”

Well, put on your thinking cap, think again. Prevention is better than cure. It’s the same old reality which don’t change: the thin line between life and death.

While some are negative with helmets, many riders have discovered through a minor life-changing crash that saved their grey matter. Wearing one should not be seen as a burden but a smart benefit.

Think of the helmet as an investment for greater profit afterwards. No helmet could mean greater loss at the end whether financially, emotionally or physically. We are not blinded to the fact that the risks are simply too great. In totality, safety is a low-cost preventive action. So use your head, and strap on a helmet.