Ride without a helmet, and run the risk of a critical head injury. Now, this is a no-brainer, as proven beyond doubt by NIMHANS studies. But a recent nationwide study has established just why people hesitate to don that protective headgear.
Helmet usage is linked highly to enforcement. Motorcyclists wear it because there is a traffic cop waiting round the corner.
The multi-city study that also covered Bengaluru had a fifth (21 per cent) of the respondent bikers admit that they wore helmets only on spotting a constable from a distance. Discomfort was another factor that had 27 per cent ride without helmets. Hardly surprising then that a high 56 per cent reserved the headgear only for long drives.
Among those who did wear helmets, choice of an appropriate headgear depended on safety (65 per cent), affordability (56 per cent), comfort (51 per cent) and availability (50 per cent).
Helmets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But if safety remains the biggest factor, why does it not figure high in headgear design? The study found that both helmet dealers and customers were not ready to compromise on safety for style. Besides, a majority of them wanted helmets to be made specially for children. And that had to be light weight.
Design should drive greater helmet usage provided rider comfort is also factored in, opined R A Venkitachalam, Vice-President, Underwriters Laboratories, the architect of the study. “The design could, for instance, help more air to get in making the ride comfortable. Helmets could be made with lighter material and be stylish so that young riders would see it as a ‘cool’ thing to do,” he explained. His analysis was based on some interesting reasons that many riders gave for not wearing a helmet: That a helmet is too heavy, that it upsets the hairstyle... Some even believed it contributed to their hair-loss.
Venkitachalam elaborated , “Understanding the psyche of non-users is critical to boosting helmet use, because most of the people who die on the roads are two-wheeler riders.”