“It couldn’t happen to me” is what these School children seem to be saying, riding a scooter to school without wearing a helmet; when 85,000 people die and a much higher number of people are injured, deformed and disfigured, from road accidents every year in India.
Every week day morning in Dehra Dun, it is a common sight to see a few such youngsters driving to school, with the morning wind blowing through their hair. Once every few months the Police gets tough and imposes fines on such children, but it serves at best as a temporary dampener on these high spirited youngsters.
Why then do children not wear helmets, inspite of knowing the potential consequences of accidents?
Then we must understand that accidents can happen even if you are driving slowly and carefully. Someone else can be driving rashly, a stray animal or child can run in front of you or you may not see a broken road. The speed at which your head hits the ground is sufficient to cause enough injury even if the speed of your scooter was very slow. Injuries from even minor falls can sometimes disfigure your face, so it is better to have “smushed helmet hair” than a scarred face. Getting children who have gone through serious accidents to talk to school children can be very effective.
There is a need to make helmet wearing appear “cool”. This can be achieved by having attractively shaped and colored helmets available in the market. Helmets can have signatures of famous sports or film personalities or other “cool” designs. There should be air vents in them so that sweating is reduced. Chin straps can be made softer and attractive. Helmets for girls can be beautifully colored, like pink, and have flowers, butterflies and birds on them.
There are hundreds of advertisements daily for motorcycles and scooters on TV featuring Bollywood stars and not a single one for helmets. It could be made compulsory for such advertisers to add a ten second clip by the same star, urging the use of helmets while driving two wheelers. This could have a significant impact on the teenage audience.
Finally, scooter stands should accept custody of helmets. At present you can leave your helmet on your scooter at your own risk or carry it with you, both of which are troublesome options. If the scooter stand attendant gave you a receipt for your scooter and your helmet that would give everyone less problem in using a helmet.
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