Many, if not most of us, have at some point used a ‘taxi-moto’ (as they are commonly known) as a means of transport. And by laws governing Rwanda, every user is supposed to wear a helmet.
This is mainly done as a safety measure to protect the passenger and motorcycle rider in case of an accident. The head is delicate, and that’s why a lot of caution is taken in protection.
The helmet policy has been positively embraced throughout the country as no motorcyclist can be seen anywhere using the machine without a helmet, or one for his passenger. This has been very helpful in curbing deaths arising from motorcycle accidents.
However, just like any positive initiative, motorcycle helmets have their shortcomings too. It should be noted that these helmets are among the ways some diseases are spread from one person to another. This is because many people use the same helmet, and there should be precautionary measure, such as cleaning, taken before another person uses it.
Usually, a passenger will use the helmet and the moment they reach their destination, another passenger will use it—and infections can spread.
Just like shaving machines are sterilised or cleaned after being used in a salon, measures should be taken to ensure safety of motorcycle users. A disinfectant can be bought by a motorist to spray the helmet after it is used by one passenger. This will help curb the spread of diseases, such as ring worm and other skin illnesses.
Helmets have a black sponge-like material on the inside and this absorbs sweat and dirt; it poses the question, how many of these helmets are actually washed on a regular basis?
Ideally, motorcyclists should endeavour to wash their helmets regularly to curb the risk of infections or skin irritation.
It would also be a good idea for motorcyclists to change their helmets depending on how long they’ve had them. Some are in a very poor state. Honestly, no one should wake up in the morning, have a shower and wear neat clothes to work, only to be handed a helmet that is in a very sorry state.
If one can’t afford to buy a new helmet every now and then, it is better to keep it as clean as possible. A passenger will know that a helmet is old but clean and will feel comfortable using it.
Some of the few motorcycle riders that I have had the chance to talk to have told me that from the time they bought the motorcycle, they have never changed a helmet and don’t see themselves doing so in the near future.
“Why would I change my helmet, I see no need to do so,’’ Erisa Niyonzima said to me one morning as he took me to work. He said he will only buy a new one if the one he has becomes completely useless, or gets stolen.
Motorcycle helmets have helped in controlling injuries and death, but they have also increased the rate at which manageable illnesses spread. Individuals who can afford personal helmets should invest in one to be on the safer side.