Make full-face helmets mandatory
Recently we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about finding solutions to car and bike accidents in Bermuda. Really, for a country our size, the amount of accidents and road fatalities seem out of proportion. Statistically we are also above the average for fatalities, which is directly a result of limited landmass meaning many people ride motorcycles daily.
There are numerous factors. Drinking and driving, poor driver behaviour, excessive speeds, all contribute to the problem.
However with all the talk and focus on various legislation, increased traffic enforcement by the police, speed cameras, road patrols aimed at drunk drivers, the Drive for Change Campaign spearheaded by The Royal Gazette and I’m sure a few more initiatives I’ve missed, we seem to be overlooking a simple change that would have a potentially large impact: full-face helmets.
Some 35 per cent of all injuries that occur in motorcycle accidents are to the lower face and the jaw.
Many times these can be fatal. If not the initial trauma itself, the damage and bleeding that occurs to the face will make breathing quite difficult, even with emergency services attending the accident quickly.
Of course we’re not even mentioning the life-changing injuries that a fractured jaw, scarring, upper facial damage or worse that is inflicted on those who survive.
I’ve been in emergency services for my entire life, having joined a fire department as a junior when I was 14 years old. I had seen every single manner of death and mayhem that is out there before I was legally able to vote or buy a beer.
Motorcycle accidents tend to result in some of the worse carnage one can imagine, due to the high rate of speed and obvious lack of protection, so to me, having proper equipment is a very big topic.
Not to mention the large number of friends who are motorcycle enthusiasts.
So I’ve been sitting and pondering, a few times asking out loud: our community, politicians, emergency response, media and stakeholders are all trying to do something, anything to put a dent in our driving, but we are skipping over something obvious.
In a study done in the US in 2005, of approximately 40,000 accidents studied, facial injuries and traumatic brain injuries resulted in more than 40 per cent of all motorcycle accidents.
In a 1981 study, approximately 35 per cent of all head or face injuries occur where a full-face helmet would provide protection.
When it comes down to society, there will always be a “floor” of injuries and sadly deaths when it comes to driving around motorcycles and multiple-tonne cars and trucks at high rates of speed.
While I understand that there are many places we can tackle poor driving, accidents and fatalities, there are a few “easy wins” we can implement quickly and without a huge cost to the taxpayer, or stretching out police services even farther.
Let’s make full-face helmets a requirement in Bermuda.
• Gilbert “Artie” Darrell is a technology entrepreneur and a certified New York State fire instructor