Motorcycle Helmet Safety
Global Road Safety Target:
Target 7: By 2030, increase the proportion of motorcycle riders correctly using standard helmets to close to 100%
Wearing a firmly strapped helmet that meets an international safety standard is the single most effective way of reducing brain injuries and fatalities resulting from a motorcycle crash.
Traumatic head (brain) injuries are a major cause of death, serious injury, and permanent disability among motorcycle users in Pakistan.
The number of motorcycles in Pakistan is rapidly increasing, in the year 2016/2017 alone, the total number of motorcycles produced were 1,558,964. And the total number of sales were 1,557,792.
In many families a motorcycle is used as a family vehicle.
Global good practice in motorcycle helmet wearing
The World Health Organization global best practice standard for motorcycle safety is a legal standard for helmet safety and use of a standard’s mark to identify helmets which meet the standard, motorcycle helmet laws covering all motorcycle users and enforcement of these laws.
Not wearing a helmet, not firmly strapping the helmet, or wearing a sub-standard helmet has been shown to increase the risks of fatalities and injuries resulting from road crashes involving motorcycles.
Globally, WHO data shows that almost a quarter of the victims of road crashes who require admission to a hospital have sustained a traumatic brain injury.
Pakistan motorcycle helmet law:
PMVO 1969, 89-A, mandates that: “Rider to wear helmet. – No person shall drive, or ride the pillion seat of, a two-wheeled motor vehicle except when he is wearing a crash helmet. Explanation- In this section, “crash helmet” means a helmet made of such material and meeting such other requirements as may be prescribed.
Currently, the law in Pakistan does not prescribe a standard for motorcycle helmets or a requirement for motorcycle helmets to meet an international safety standard such as UN Regulation No 22.
Penalty: Driver of motor cycle without safety helmet 200 PKR
In 2013 Pakistan scored its enforcement level for speed limit law as 4/10.
Enforcement levelSource: www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2015/Country_profiles_combined_GSRRS2015_2.pdf?ua=1
Why do we need to wear a helmet?
Non-helmeted motorcycle users are three times more likely to sustain head injuries in a crash compared to those wearing a firmly strapped helmet.
Wearing a helmet has been shown to decrease the risk and severity of injuries among motorcyclists by about 70%, the likelihood of death by almost 40%, and to substantially reduce the costs of health care associated with such crashes.
Head injuries are the most widespread cause of death in motorcycle accidents. In most cases, the rider was without a motorcycle helmet. Death or serious injury could have been prevented with the use of a motorcycle helmet that absorbs the impact of a crash or fall.
With the growing popularity of motorcycles because of its ability to plot a route through traffic faster than other types of vehicles, also comes the increase in the numbers of motorcycle accidents. The size of the motorcycle makes it vulnerable for high-speed driving that often causes a crash. To protect the rider from fatal head injury, wearing of a reliable motorcycle helmet is crucial.
What happens in a motorcycle crash?
When you travel on a motorcycle, your body is traveling at the same speed and in the same direction as the motorcycle. If the motorcycle is involved in a sudden harsh braking event or a crash, the motorcycle will stop, but you and any other person using the motorcycle will keep moving at the same speed until something causes you to stop.
Usually, you stop when your body (and head) hits the pavement or a roadside object.
A motorcycle helmet aims to reduce the risk of serious head and brain injuries by spreading crash forces and reducing their impact to the head. It protects the brain until the head and body come to a stop.
Traumatic brain injury can result in permanent disability. Your life, and the lives of every member of your family will change forever.
Why is traumatic head/brain injury so serious?
How does a helmet work?
A helmet reduces the deceleration of the skull, and hence the brain movement, by managing the impact. The soft material incorporated in the helmet absorbs some of the impact and therefore the head comes to a halt more slowly. This means that the brain does not hit the skull with such great force.
It spreads the forces of the impact over a greater surface area so that they are not concentrated on particular areas of the skull.
It prevents direct contact between the skull and the impacting object by acting as a mechanical barrier between the head and the object.
These three functions are achieved by combining the properties of four basic components of the helmet that are described below:
Four layers of head protection
1. The rigid outer shell
This is the strong outer surface of the helmet that distributes the impact over a large surface area, and therefore lessens the force before it reaches the head. Although the shell is tough, it is designed to compress when it hits anything hard. It provides protection against penetration by small, sharp and high-speed objects and it also protects the padding inside the helmet from abrasions and knocks during daily use. These requirements mean that the shell must be hard, usually with a smooth exterior finish.
2. The impact-absorbing liner
This is made of a soft, crush-able padded material – usually expanded polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam. This dense layer cushions and absorbs the shock as the helmet stops and the head tries to continue moving.
3. The comfort padding
This is the soft foam-and-cloth layer that sits next to the head. It helps keep the head comfortable and the helmet fitting snugly.
4. The retention system, or chin strap
This is the mechanism that keeps the helmet on the head in a crash. A strap is connected to each side of the shell. Chin and neck straps, which are specifically designed to keep the helmet on during an impact, must be correctly used for the helmet to function as it is designed to.
If the helmet is not firmly strapped it will detach from the head during the crash or sudden harsh braking and will not provide any protection.