Despite being able to reduce the risk of fatality in the event of a crash by one-third, a startling amount of motorcyclists in India don’t wear helmets largely because they’re not cool. Now, the traffic department of Pune, India has enlisted the help of young motorcyclists for a special rally with the intention of trying to make helmets cooler and more socially acceptable.
Over 100 traffic constables and 100 members of the Pune Bikers group will take part in the special helmet awareness rally that will visit colleges all around the city to educate students on the importance of wearing a helmet.
“The total duration of the awareness drive will be two hours, and we will target the youth in popular colleges. It is essential to make youngsters understand the importance of using a helmet while riding a two-wheeler,” said assistant commissioner of police Rajendra Joshi.
“In order to ensure that the drive is effective, we have joined hands with the bikers, who are young and can spread the message more effectively,” added Joshi. “As they are professional riders, they can speak about how a helmet can actually save lives in accidents.”
While the rally may serve as an effective way of lifting the social stigma from helmets, tougher helmet laws coupled with stronger law enforcement efforts may prove more effective. Studies have shown that laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets have effectively reduced the number of motorcycle fatalities.
“Riders’ opinions about wearing helmets have changed drastically over the last 10-15 years,” says Mike Eichhorne, Owner of Chesapeake Cycles in Annapolis, MD. “When helmet laws first became widespread, most riders rejected the notion of wearing a helmet because helmets went against the basic premise of freedom on the open road. However, in recent years, we’ve seen helmets become an expression of style and respect for rider safety.”
For example, Louisiana once repealed and then re-adopted a helmet law. There were about 30% fewer motorcycle fatalities in the first year that the law was reinstated, showing the efficacy of such laws.
“Helmets act like cushions during accidents. More than 98 per cent of the time, a helmet saves the rider from any kind of head injury,” said Sangram Devkar, president of the Pune Bikers group. “The youth should realise the importance of wearing helmets, and not see it as a burden on their head.”