usual, I tried hard to come up with something funny to start off
this feature. But fret and fuss as much I could, there was nothing
funny to conjure up when the subject veers around to helmets. My
dear friend and colleague Freddy Gilles was killed in May purely
due to negligence. Negligence on the part of the road development
authorities for littering the road with debris but more importantly
negligence on Freddy's part for not protecting his head with a helmet.
Had Freddy been wearing a helmet as he used to daily, he would have
been with us today.
Helmets save lives. Period. Anybody who tells you otherwise is insane
or has his eye on your share of the inheritance.
all developed countries and most developing nations helmets are
compulsory for bikers. Back in the seventies when helmets were made
compulsory in Britain, anti-helmet activists went to great lengths
to protest against what they felt was an infringement on their rights,
some even converting to Sikhism to avoid wearing a helmet. But now
a helmet is a part and parcel of the biking culture and nobody questions
the wisdom behind its use. Even in countries like Bhutan and Nepal,
helmets are compulsory. It is only in India that political compulsions
have come in the way of enacting and enforcing legislation making
helmets compulsory. Sad but true, our government is more concerned
with protecting its vote bank than protecting lives of citizens.
The basis for any protective device is two-fold: there must be the
perception of risk and also the perception that the said device
somehow attenuates that risk. From antiquity to the present, protective
headgear has prevailed whenever both these perceptions exist, and
has disappeared whenever either perception is questioned.
The use of protective headgear may be as old as warfare itself.
There are numerous accounts of how Alexander the Great had been
saved many times by his fluted helmet and even the 'Iliad' contains
references to head injuries prevented by helmets.
The protective capabilities of all headgear are continually being
balanced by their wearers against other features such as visual
impact, comfort and ease of use. The importance of visual impact,
what sociologists might describe as the headgear's ceremonial and
decorative function, is particularly strong in our species. This
visual impact of headgear will always weigh heavily in subjective
evaluations of a helmet's worth.
What does a helmet do?:
For starters, a helmet keeps your head warm and dry while also protecting
you from the elements. The second and most important function a
helmet serves is to protect your 'nut should you get knocked off.
A helmet can't protect your head against all-foreseeable high speed
and low speed impacts, as there are a number of accidents that can
take place. The use of a well-fitting, securely fastened helmet
can minimise the risk of death or permanent impairment due to head
There are broadly two types of helmets: full-face (where a chin
bar and flush-fitting visor cover the face and chin), and open-face
(sometimes referred to as Jet-type helmets) where the face and chin
are exposed. The type you choose depends largely on what type of
riding you plan to do and what level of protection and comfort you