Marlon Fletcher, former president of the Jamaica Motorcyclists Association, is urging bikers to invest in purchasing and wearing helmets as one way to save their lives in the event of a road crash.
The motorcycle enthusiast explains that wearing a helmet offers many advantages and is inexpensive to purchase.
“As a motorcyclist a helmet can save your life and should be worn every time you ride a motorcycle,” affirmed Mr. Fletcher. “Wearing a helmet offers many advantages for the rider because most importantly, in the event of a crash, it can prevent serious head injury. Also, when you are riding, it prevents dust and wind from getting in your eyes and so you should wear it all times.
“The only disadvantage to wearing a helmet is the heat because it will get hot because of the sponge and foam which are built in the helmet to provide comfort and protect you,” he added.
Mr Fletcher, who has been riding professionally for more than 20 years, notes that cost should not be the reason motorcyclists fail to wear a helmet.
“Most motorcyclists spend thousands of dollars to repair their bikes annually, so cost is not a deterrent. You can purchase a helmet for between US$50 and US$300 depending on quality and preference. Repairing a bike can sometimes cost more than that in a year so it can’t be cost why people don’t wear them,” he noted.
The retired stunt rider explained that one of the reasons helmets are not worn in Jamaica as often as it should, is because of the level of enforcement.
“One of the reasons so many motorcyclists are injured in crashes is because the laws that govern the use of helmets are not enforced consistently,” he noted. “You will see cases where riders drive past police without wearing helmet or even other protective gear and nothing is done. If you want to reduce road crashes involving motorcyclists, then enforcement also has to play a part.”
“Also, there is the cultural element where some of these guys may not think it is cool to wear a helmet, let alone other protective gear. But riding without a helmet is like exposing oneself to a contagious disease without the necessary protective gear. You would not do that under normal circumstances. So, why expose yourself in a situation like that?”
Owen Smith, general manager, Jamaica Automobile Association, points out that as advocates of road safety, his organisation has been proponents of motorcyclists wearing helmets.
“The JAA has always encourage safe use of the roads and advocating for the wearing of helmets has been one of our areas of concentration. As part of that effort, we recently partnered with the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to donate 700 helmets to bikers. We have also been engaging bike taxis in Westmoreland as one way to help reduce fatalities among bikers in that parish and we continue to be proponents of responsible road usage” he stated.
Mr Fletcher also has some advice for riders when it comes to wearing helmets.
- Ensure you purchase the right helmet that fits your head. Use a mirror, or have a friend look down on your head from the top to see if it fits right. You can also measure your head to ensure you know your size.
- Be sure to purchase helmets that have been certified by the United States Department of Transport or another reputable body.
- Be wary of helmets that are too thin. Helmets generally weigh about three pounds and are generally more than an inch thick and also possess a stiff inner foam liner.
- Unsafe helmets may have plastic buckles than can break easily in a crash so avoid those.
- Also, your helmet is only good for one road crash after that you need to get a new one. The reason being is that the foam is to protect your head and sponge is for comfort. During a crash, the foam is damaged and so will no longer be effective thereafter.
- Always ensure your helmet is safely secured.
- Above all else, use the road with caution.