*Crash Helmet Law: Winning Or Losing?
By Adewale T. Akande
It is now nine months plus( precisely January 1st ) when the Federal
Road Safety Commission came out with the 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 while riding. 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 wearing 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 chances of surviving a crash. There is something some Nigerians have refuse to understand - the law is meant for a purpose, which is the safety of motorcycle riders and all road users.
Wearing of 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. 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 cyclists safe since it can reduce the risk of brain injury by 85 percent. How much is this standard crash helmet in monetary cost to a motorcyclist against brain damage 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 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a respect German, regarded as the country'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 accidents. Approved standard white or bright colour 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. Helmet also helps to reduce ambient wind noise which consequently brings about fatigue and distracts a rider from concentration. Correctly-fitting, well-designed helmet prevents dangers to the ears from indiscriminately loud horns, sirens and traffic noises. In addition, a helmet with visors and goggles also helps with protection from insects, dust and scorching sun.
Traffic police officers have great role to play in strengthening compliance of the 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 achieving this goal. Effort should be make to create more effective awareness through print and mass media, meeting with motorcycle associations as there is no town or state in the country where we do not have them. And lastly, traffic authorities should liase with community leaders in order to make the crash helmet law a reality.
Adewale T. Akande
Author and Road Safety Consultant