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Coney White
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Helmet - For Driver's Safety

Wear that helmet

IS HELMET-TALK small? There’s this story about a motorcyclist driving on his way downtown without a helmet. A traffic enforcer made signs for him to stop, and he did. The man asked the driver, “Ha-in ang imong helmet?” The motorcyclist quickly pointed to the helmet hanging on his vehicle’s handle bar. “Ni-a, sir!” the cyclist said quickly, like a kid facing the teacher, reporting for duty. Yes, he had a helmet as required by the law.
That was probably an incident way back in the time when the use of the helmet wasn’t in the language of motorcycling and there weren’t motorcycle public transportations at all, also it was in a time when few knew the importance of the headgear for a driver’s safety. There wasn’t enough knowledge on the use of the headgear. And yet, no one in his right mind can dismiss some facts about motorcycling—injury in the head. The health department early this year reported that nine out of 10 motorcyclists and riders, who died before reaching the hospital, were not wearing helmets. With the coming of the habal-habal rides (passengers in motorcycles), the cases of injuries and deaths in motorcycle crashes stressed the importance of helmets. And a year ago, there was suddenly some noise about traffic officials making sure that the use of helmets by motorcyclists, according to the Motorcycle Helmet Law, or Republic Act 10054, was being carried out. Traffic officers moved as though to implement strictly the law on motorcycle driving and back-riding. But some months after, I saw again drivers of motorcycles, and more of the back riders or passengers, not wearing helmets. Some days ago, I counted the number of motorcycles in my cab ride to the office during a 10-minute drive. I saw 15 motorcycle passengers without the protective headgear. I live where there are numerous motorcycles fighting for space to fly in (and out). In one ride to office in a cab, the driver almost hit a cyclist who slipped from nowhere into our reality (the cabbie’s and mine) in just a second, like in a horrible dream. The cab driver was able to step on the brake on time (and I was able to hold on to the side to keep my body from smashing against the back of the front seat). Now there’s hardly talk of helmet use for motorcyclists, it’s back to the first time people talked of safety measures in motorcycle driving. As a protective gear for bald heads, the helmet could prevent the tanning of heads (which are said to result in unlovely dark lines in the skin), or of heat rash, or worse, of skin cancer. We can also go on to talk of disability or death in riding a motorcycle without using a helmet. But now, it seems as though no one again is talking about helmets, perhaps not until the next rush of cases of disability or death from head injuries? In the quarterly health department fact sheet, it’s clear that the biggest number of injury cases is transport-related. The quarterly reports say that in the list of the injured and dead in motorcycle accidents, those wearing the gear are still alive. But we’re not talking about it again here in Cebu, and so the cases of injuries of cyclists not wearing headgears could rise. How do other countries deal with it? Vietnam has 90 percent motorcycles of vehicles in the country. That is, it’s a “nation of motorcycles.” It was only in 2007 that the government came up with a law on helmet use by motorcyclists. An interesting report on motorcycle accidents reveals that before the law on the use of motorcycle helmets was passed, some 40 people died in motorcycle accidents every day! But after the strict implementation of the law, there was an incredible drop of the number of injuries and deaths. Did you ever read in the news about charges made against those who don’t comply with this simple law of wearing a helmet? It seems like small talk but an earnest application of the law could save lives.

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ConeyWhiteJ