IT IS a common sight to see children wearing adult motorcycle helmets or no helmets at all when riding a motorcycle.
This can be very dangerous as head injuries contribute to more than half of fatalities involving motorcycles.
Safe Kids Malaysia Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) executive director Assoc Prof Dr Kulanthayan KC Mani says children should be wearing properly fitted, Sirim-certified helmets every time they ride on a motorcycle.
It is common to see children wearing ill-fitting helmets, or worse, toy or bicycle helmets when they are riding pillion, he says during a talk on road safety at SJK (T) Kajang recently.
He also says that it is imperative the helmet is Sirim-certified as this shows it has undergone rigorous safety tests, such as a penetration test, to ensure it can withstand the impact of a crash.
Dr Kulanthayan adds that the helmet should be fastened securely under the chin.
“If for any reason you find that uncomfortable, then the maximum amount of space (between the strap and the chin) should be two fingers.”
He adds that 60% of road fatalities involve motorcyclists and more than half of them are due to head injuries.
Last year in Malaysia, there were 548,598 reported road accidents and 6,284 fatalities.
“We should see this (road accidents) as a ‘disease’ because it is the number two killer after cardiovascular diseases,” he says.
He adds that the “most dangerous mode of transport is the motorcycle as it is the most exposed.”
The talk was part of the fifth United Nations (UN) Global Road Safety Week, initiated by the UN and carried out concurrently in all countries from May 6 to 12, 2019.
The campaign also saw about 75 children’s motorcycle helmets given to pupils who come to school using motorcycles.
The pupils were from SJK (T) Kajang, a UPM-adopted school.
“These pupils were seen not wearing a helmet at all, or they are wearing a toy helmet or an adult’s helmet,” he adds.
As part of the launch of the campaign, Dr Kulanthayan gave the talk on road safety.
His talk also included the importance of wearing a motorcycle helmet and how to choose a proper helmet for a child.
“We view the helmet as a ‘vaccine’ to prevent head injuries from happening during accidents,” he explains, adding that a helmet has a “five-year lifespan.”
Dr Kulanthayan advises everyone to use public vehicles, especially buses and trains, whenever possible as this is the safest mode of transport.
He hopes that after the talk, the pupils will become “road safety ambassadors” for their family and friends.
The UN Global Road Safety Week is a biennial campaign which began in 2011.
In Malaysia, the campaign is jointly organised by Safe Kids Malaysia UPM, Road Safety Department, the police and the Civil Defence Force.
It is supported by international partners Safe Kids Worldwide USA, Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety and World Health Organisation Western Pacific Regional Office.