People not wearing helmets even though it’s the law is nothing new, is it?
It has been mandatory to wear helmets in India after the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988. And in many states in India, it is now compulsory for even the pillion rider to wear a helmet. A study found that only 0.6% of all MTW (motorised two-wheelers) pillions were helmeted. Women, in particular, are not likely to wear helmets, even if they are driving.
Perhaps the helmetless regime believes that nothing will happen to them. Or perhaps they think that they are not harming anybody except themselves. Or perhaps they think that comfort overrides safety. Or is it because they fear that others will make fun of them? If none of your friends wear helmets, you may feel awkward being the only one!
I have written about the perils of being casual about safety but this malaise cannot be fixed in a hurry. Disregard for safety has become so entrenched in our psyche that anyone who is careful could be considered foolish or paranoid.
Giving thumbs down to safety is a sign of an immature society. It reveals a traditional mindset where people want to follow the herd. There is a fear of being different, a fear of being laughed at or ridiculed. It is not necessarily anything to do with living in a rich or poor country because even in a poor country like Vietnam people wear helmets. The photograph below says it all.
It’s not just the helmet, but note the masks worn for protection from air pollution. The Vietnamese are concerned not just about hurting their heads in an accident but also about air pollution. People in masks and helmets are the norm there. Statistics say that India is more polluted and more accident prone but wearing helmets and masks is not the norm.
Could this safety consciousness in Vietnam be something to do with the lack of democracy in the country? The government is strict there. If we wait for our government to be strict and actually enforce our laws, I think we might have to wait forever.