Hi! Today is the 1st of June 2007 and if you are living in Tamilnadu you must wear a helmet if you ride a bike or even ride pillion on a bike. And surprise, surprise on my way to office I saw the ban take effect almost 100%. The 1% are those fool hardy idiots who still choose to ignore the ban. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people wearing sparkling brand new helmets prominently displaying the "ISI" mark on them. What gladdened my heart even more was that I saw a few riders have an extra helmet with them on the bike presumably for their other halves when they ride with them. Way to go people!!!
Now let us think about this 1%, well suicide is not permitted by law but I supose if someone is so foolhardy to play with his / her life, no amount of legislation will help. Is the helmet rule or for that matter the seat belt rule so draconian? It simply is not. Wake up. Helmet may not keep you from getting killed but it can minimise the injuries by a great deal. The Hindu Metroplus yesterday (I think) had a wonderful article on the helmets. Apparently one dumb reader had written to the Mumbai Commisioner saying "I ride at around 55 kms/ hr only and at such slow speeds where is the need for a helmet" The reply was a real punchline "At 55 kms / hr you would be travelling at approximately 49 m/sec the same speed at which you will hit the ground if you jump from a fourth floor window...".Period.
I find a helmet as not just a fashion accessory that complements my bike but also a means to escape the stifling heat. To all the sniggering sceptics a good crash helmet with a full face visor not only keeps out the heat and dust but also saves my head. And if sweat is a concern then do the silly baseball caps make you sweat less? Even more funny are "the bandit queens" on the road, those vain women who for fear of the sun contrive to wrap themselves in a dupatta or long towels till only their eyes are seen and then cover their eyes with shades. Ladies your mugs wont last a crash, surely if you pay so much attention to your face then you can spare a thought to your heads. Use your heads before you should loose them. Applies to all guys too.
A few tumbles and falls from my bike over the years have left me unscarred thanks to my helmets but what left an undelible impression on me was an instance a few years ago on Poonamallee High road. Weaving my way through the notoriously heavy traffic on my bike I was suddenly stunned by a projectile that bounced off my helmet. I stopped to see that it was a small piece of sharp blue metal stone the kind used in laying roads. The stone had been kicked up by a tyre of a passing truck and the force of the impact stunned me momentarily. A similar impact had dented the side panel of my car in a later instance. A sharp fast moving projectile is lethal and were it not for my helmet I guess this blog may not have happened.
Despite all these I'm sure that the naysayers will never be convinced. I dont intend to. Just remember that a helmet is a visible sign of responsibility. It is not hard to visualise a boss saying in the near future, "You who are not responsible for big things like your own life, how can I trust you with this job?" or a prospective father in law saying "If you cannot safeguard your own life, how can I trust the life of my daughter in your care?"
Be responsible over your life which is the most important thing, it shows that you can be responsible over much lesser things like your family, work, etc, all of which will cease if you cease to be.