Full face helmets are the need of the hour

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The Union Ministry of Road Transport is planning to ban the production and sale of non-ISI mark helmets. The ministry has constituted a committee to make suggestions to introduce changes in the design of helmets.

Currently, India follows the European standards for two wheeler helmets which cover the entire head, face, chin and neck. As reported in the June 25th, 2017 Bengaluru edition of Deccan Herald, the committee feels that this design is uncomfortable to wear due to its bulky size and little ventilation inside. Insignificant issues such as women's hairstyles getting spoilt have been stated to justify a new model. The committee has proposed that the new helmet should cover only the forehead in the front and upper portion of the neck.

My mother is a Maxillofacial Surgeon who treats fractures of the facial bones. She has operated on innumerable road accident patients and has shared these stories with me. As a surgeon, she knows that the recommended design leaves the face and lower jaw vulnerable. She sees scores of patients who wear helmets to protect their head but end up with fractures of their face and lower jaw. I have seen images of mutilated faces and understood that these injuries can even be fatal. This has greatly moved me and I believe that we should do whatever is within our power to minimize such injuries. 

A helmet must not only be worn to abide by traffic rules, but also to serve its purpose of protection. If the government really wants to decrease injuries due to road accidents, it needs to design a more effective model. This is the time to enforce full face helmets which protect the head as well as the facial bones, including the lower jaw, rather than to be concerned about comfort. The issue of ventilation can still be tackled by incorporating adequate vents into full face helmets.

I have spoken with the Honorary General Secretary of the Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons of India (AOMSI), and he too agrees that the proposed helmet design is flawed.

This is a fervent appeal to Shri Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport Minister of India, to take into consideration the above suggestion before arriving at a conclusion about the standard design of the ISI mark helmet.



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