I had the most illuminating ride to work today. I woke up late (I was late to work by the time I woke up). I had a speed bath, speed dressed and took a commercial vehicle to CMS. All was going according to plan.
Then, I took a bike from CMS to VI (to avoid getting to work after lunch). The interesting bike man decided to get on the BRT lane. After asking him (then screaming at him)to get off the lane like 5 times, he obliged, telling me that all the security operatives were his people and no one could ‘catch’ him. I succeeded in convincing him after I told him he was acting like an animal. That really got to him and offended him (thank God he is not a violent man). I managed to explain to him that I was not calling him an animal but I was trying to show him what his behaviour was portraying. I told him that civilization (which man boasts of) is the ability to comply with laws that were established for our own good. (I don’t know if that applies to cars moving on the BRT lanes as my concern was for safety, as well as complying with the directive)
This afternoon, I took another bike and I observed other people on bikes with their helmets. Some put on the helmet but did not hook the part that ensures that the helmet remains attached to their head no matter what. Others used the industrial helmet (hard hat). That set me thinking about the Nigerian attitude to personal safety (I don’t know what obtains in other climes). I’ll like to talk a little about the use of the crash helmet and the seat belt.
1. The crash helmet and the seat belts fall under the same category as far as protection is concerned- they are mitigative, i.e. they do not prevent accidents. However, they are to ensure that if the undesired event (e.g. accident) does happen, the consequences are minimised. In the case of the crash helmet, it is to ensure that if one is ever involved in a bike accident, there is little or no damage to the brain. In the case of the seatbelt, it protects you from going through the windscreen (in the case of the front passengers) or becoming a projectile that could hurt other otherwise safe people (in the case of those at the back).
2. None of them is really so inconvenient that we would want to risk the consequence of not using them (potential death)
3. The car was designed with the sealt belt in mind. The seat belt and the crash helmet are part of the design in using the car and the motorcycle safely. Not using them is like opening a transformer box without the appropriate safety equipment, carrying a hot pot from the stove with your bare hands or handling a loaded gun without some protection.
4. The crash helmet is designed to have that latch that ensures that the helmet stays on your head in the event of a fall. If you use the industrial type or you use the actual one without the latch, the helmet will come off your head in the event of a fall and you are left with no protection (just like someone that did not use the protection)
5. My answer to those who say that using the crash helmet can make you disappear is this- sitting on the bike can also make you disappear. You actually have the option of walking to wherever you’re going or using a vehicle (where you should use your seat belt). If you are afraid of the crash helmet and do not like the seat belt, you can walk. It is actually healthy.
6. The major difference between man and animals is that man was not designed to react to his environment. He can order his world and use his environment to his advantage. in other words, man can think and carry out his thoughts. You can decide to use the crash helmet and the seat belt and not be one of the statistics that the FRSC has to report.
I read yesterday that in Lagos, the FRSC recorded 15000 deaths from bike accidents in 20 years. This translates to roughly 2 deaths per day in the past 20 years and these deaths are mostly preventable, if each one of us will use our crash helmets.
Finally, the law requires you to use the seat belt and the crash helmet. Let’s get involved in our personal safety and do the right thing.
Eko o ni baje o.