My eyes glanced over an article which read, “90% of Indians face safety risks by not using rear seat belts,” and I burst into laughter!
Forget rear seat belts. 1 out of every 2 people I meet who proudly claims themselves “educated”, do not LIKE wearing a front seat belt and helmet. Yes, “like” is the unbelievable word this educated clan uses to refuse vehicle safety gears.
My tone may sound sarcastic and pinch a few of you, but it’s time it pinches you hard before one of you see the unfortunate day!
Why Do Indians “DISLIKE” Helmets And Seat Belts?
According to statistics mentioned in an article of TOI, 75 percent passenger vehicle users (driver, co-driver and rear) in India refuse wearing seat belts leading to 15 deaths every day. Also, in comparison to the US and Europe, seat belt usage stood at 28 percent compliance only.
India has strict laws to fine people for sitting in front without a seat belt. We Indians violate the rules and only comply with it because the traffic police at the next signal will charge a hefty sum. Why can’t we wear safety gear for our own protection, instead of the fear of paying the penalty?
Many drivers and commuters often give “terrible” reasons to avoid seat belts and helmets. So, here is a list of those reasons, that people love using as an excuse to not wear seat belts and helmets:
Reasons for No Seat Belt
- Dress gets crumpled by a seat belt- Your dress gets crumpled momentarily, but the injuries stay with you permanently. It’s disturbing to see how people weigh their attire over safety.
- It’s a short distance, what can possibly go wrong– A lot can go wrong in a matter of few seconds, even if it’s a short distance there can be another vehicle covering the same route at high speed. So, better, watch out!
- Traffic is slow– Slow moving traffic may not pose a threat, but one cannot get slack about safety. At sharp turnings, crossroads and open roads, you may not find the time to wear the seat belt. So, why take the risk?
- When something terrible has to happen, it will happen anyway– This one’s my personal favorite. It feels like the rider just popped out of a Mountain Dew Commercial. No offense, but “adventure” never asked you to act stupid. Even the organizers of adventure sports activities encourage safety harness. Unless you plan to grow into a stuntman/woman, you need to abide by traffic laws.
- No risk, no reward!– Your adrenaline rush will cost you a ton of blood. Also, there is a 100% risk and little chance of compensation in a road accident. So, stop acting foolish.
Reasons for No Helmets
- Spoils the look – Well, maximum riders face the challenge of keeping up with their look (especially their hairstyle). No denying, the helmet does flatten your hair and make them sweaty but can it be worse than a head injury?
- Helmet restricts vision and hearing– As far as hearing as an issue, I strongly feel helmets have enough space to accommodate air to travel to your ear. Having said that, I have never faced this issue in my lifetime (I use a full coverage helmet, not partial) and clearly hear the honking. The vision should not be a problem as long as the rear-view mirrors are functioning. Also, studies have revealed, full coverage helmet riders can view the adjacent lane vehicles as much as the riders without a helmet.
- Makes me sweaty in summers– Well, for this I have two suggestions- one get the right size of helmet and two to add a layer of cotton cloth inside to absorb the sweat. In a world overflowing with solutions, stop giving lame excuses!
- Outwit the cops– You may outwit them once, twice or maybe thrice. Your speeding skills will surely help you for a while till it breaks one of your bones. So excellent, keep up the game!
- Let the air touch my soul– Can someone get any more dramatic than this? It’s hard to digest why people want to feel the wind on their face and body while riding. Thanks to your romantic mood, you may end up hurting yourself and the pillion rider with you.
To sum up the list above – let’s blame lack of awareness for these reasons. Most riders and passengers do not have and seek knowledge about safety gears.
And, in case I have missed any lame excuses, feel free to add them in the comment section.
How Does a Seat Belt Help in A Crash?
Four-wheeler occupants should strictly wear seat belts to minimalize the risk during an accident.
Today’s seat belts are three-point seat belts across the upper body and around the lap. The three-point seat belts force the majority of the body behind in comparison to the early two-point seat belts, reducing the scope of injuries.
Wearing a seat belt keeps the passenger from ejecting out of the vehicle seat, which means if the vehicle comes to a stop, the passengers will automatically stop. Simple physics, right?
The car seat belts are apt for adults, but kids require a separate child car seat that spreads the force across the entire body of the child and keeps the child safe.
There is a good chance that your car will be back to square one post an expensive servicing, paid by the insurance company. What about YOU? Your injuries, even if covered by the insurer (only if you have one) may be irreparable and cause trouble for a lifetime.
How Does A Helmet Save You in An Accident?
According to figures highlighted in an article in 2017 by Gaadiwala, around 57% of Indians refrain from wearing helmets and 74%, pillion riders ignore safety measures.
Wearing a helmet is not only a legal compulsion but essential for your own safety. Helmets reduce injuries to the brain in a high-speed accident. Injuries can cause a concussion, contusions, brain bleeding, etc.
Brain injuries paralyze your normal day to day life- causing memory loss, speech problem, reduce mobility, etc. Besides, brain injuries, it is also reported that helmets can prevent neck injuries.
If a small safety gear can save you from an expensive hospital bill, why not start wearing the helmet at the earliest every time you ride your bike.
Can You SpareYour Loved Ones The Horror of Losing You?
Government has continuously encouraged traffic safety by announcing deadlines for wearing safety gears. It hardly makes them a superhero by doing so; it is meant for citizen’s safety, at least a prevention from severe injuries.
There is no denying that seat belts or helmets don’t make you invincible. There is no guarantee that you will survive an accident, even still there is a chance of escaping a big crash with minor wounds.
There are plenty of other best practices – like the use of mobile phones, driving on the wrong side, crossing the signal before it turns green, etc. we Indians need to deal with but that’s for another day. Let’s pledge to begin with the basic helmet and seat belts and gradually master the other traffic rules.
Instead of cursing the government and the country, take the first step by being responsible for yourself. Just like you show off the inked index finger after casting votes, flaunt the helmet and seat belt to give evidence of your education and ideal upbringing!
Prevent the mishap than regretting later! Gift your friends and relatives a helmet on their birthday and help them correct their mistake.
Dedicating this blog to all my family and friends who say NO to helmet and seat belts till date.