The slogan “If you’ve got a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet!” was the advertising catch-cry of the Bell helmet company about 50 years ago. To keep it simple and to bring that to today and to Thailand, I will change that to “If you’ve got a B. 100 head, wear a B. 100 helmet!”
What started me on this was the sight at lunchtime of five motorcycles on the Number 7 Freeway, driven by (perhaps if they were lucky and lied about their age) 15 year old schoolboys in uniform, with similar aged girls on pillion, and none of the 10 was wearing any helmet at all. Not even a B. 100 helmet.
I do find it saddening that parents, who presumably love their children, will allow them to ride motorcycles without protecting their brains. I have even seen a policeman on his motorcycle, wearing the police regulation issue helmet, with his daughter of about 10 years of age with no head protection, on behind him.
Mind you, I will admit that the commonest motorcycle injury is not brain damage (though that can change your life for ever), but is bone fracture and lacerations and abrasions. Those injuries don’t change your life for ever, but they do make the present not much fun!
Along with the end of the year count down, there has also been a ‘body count’ registering the number of fatalities over the New Year period in Thailand. It will be of no surprise to see that the death toll was in the hundreds.
So what remedial measures took up a complete page of one of the Bangkok English language dailies? Tougher testing for driving tests. All very Utopian, but will it do much for the death toll?
Quite simply, it will not, as 80 percent of the fatalities are motorcycle riders and the majority were not wearing a helmet.
We all know that a goodly percentage of the drivers don’t even have a license and they are already on the road. Tightening up the licensing procedures is shutting the door of the stable, after the horses have bolted!
To tackle the death toll, ensure all riders have helmets and increase the penalties for driving under the influence. I suggest that would cut the death toll in half. What do you think?