Awful And Awesome Helmets

Awful And Awesome Helmets | How To Choose?, Difference and Reasons To Wear A Helmet

Awful And Awesome Helmets: In India, there is a serious accident happening every minute, and approximately 16 people die every hour because of a serious road accident. Among all the road accidents that occur, two-wheelers account for 38% of the total accidents. According to the Ministry of Road Transport data, deaths happening because of not wearing helmet accounts for 30% of the total accidents on the road. In a road accident, motorcyclists are more likely to die than occupants of passenger cars because of better safety equipment. The survival chances improve by 42%, and injuries reduce by 69% if the rider wears an appropriate helmet.

Now safety comes with a price. People prefer cheap helmets that are sold on roadside shops and footpaths to save money. It is often noticed that the pillion is travelling without a helmet which increases the chances of getting seriously injured or even death in an accident. People being aware of the consequences of not wearing a helmet still prefers to ride without a helmet or a cheap one. They are often seen questioning police that a helmet is a helmet and there is no difference between the one they are wearing and ISI helmets.

So people need to understand the significance of the ISI mark, other safety recognitions, and the different types of helmets available in the market and how one can choose their helmets. It is more fun to ride with a helmet as it protects our whole face from insects, dust, wind noise, wind blast and splinters that come flying from other vehicle’s tires. It also reduces a rider’s fatigue.

Myth Vs Facts Of Helmets

  • Myth: Injuries to the spinal cord or neck is caused by helmets.
  • Fact: Helmets that come with ISI marks and other regulations, when worn correctly doesn’t cause any injury.
  • Myth: Impaired hearing and sound due to helmets.
  • Fact: Helmets significantly reduces wind and traffic noise but does not affect the rider’s ability to differentiate between sounds.
  • Myth: A helmet is a helmet.
  • Fact: In an accident, the quality of the helmet will determine the extent of damage the rider will face.
  • Myth: Helmets come in fixed sizes.
  • Fact: Helmets do have various sizes, and one should check the sizes that perfectly fit before buying.

Reasons To Wear A Helmet

It is often seen that fragile items come with extra packaging so that there is no damage to the product if there is an impact. Well, our heads too are delicate and can get seriously damaged in an unfortunate accident if we don’t take proper safety measures. This is where helmets play a significant role in saving our skull from a severe injury or fracture in a road accident.

When a person at 15-20kmph riding without a helmet falls, and his/her unprotected head collides with a rigid surface, the skull will shatter instantly, including brain hemorrhage and bleeding. The purpose of a helmet is to take up the impact on itself and save our precious head, but the level of impact is up to a certain level. If anyone riding at more than 80-100kmph and directly collides with a rigid surface, there will be damage, but the extent will be less if he is wearing a helmet.

A helmet cushions the impact on the head by absorbing the energy and stops the head more gradually. When the force of impact on the skull decreases, the damage also decreases and saves the person from fatal accidents. Helmets also protect a person’s face from external factors such as dust, insects, wind blast, splinters on-road and rain. Therefore, there are enough reasons as to why one should wear a helmet.

Awesome Helmets

Reasons Why People Reject Helmets

  • The young generation finds it cool riding without a helmet and ridiculing other riders who wear helmets.
  • Wearing helmets mess up the hair, according to people.
  • In Indian weather conditions, people find it uncomfortable.
  • A myth among people that helmets are required only for long trips.
  • Increased theft or damage to helmets when the owner leaves it with the parked bike or scooter.
  • A question on hygiene is also raised when the helmet is of someone else’s.

What Is A Standard Helmet?

It is stated in Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, that “Every person driving or riding on a motorcycle of any class or description shall wear a protective headgear conforming to the standards of Bureau of Indian Standards.” A standard helmet protects its users from severe brain injuries, brain injury-related deaths, neurological disabilities and skull fractures. As per law, police can impose fines if the ‘Rider is not wearing a helmet’ and ‘Pillion without a helmet’. After wearing helmets was made mandatory, people started wearing them, but most of them were duplicate ISI marked or half-face helmets. Such people are issued a warning only as imposing a fine is not authorized.

Helmets that are certified by the Indian Standards Institute can be called a safe helmet. ISI certification mark is provided to a wide range of products that are sold in India. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), a government organization, has set the minimum standard that all industrial goods need to maintain that is to be sold in India. It is an affirmation to the buyer that the concerned product conforms to the regulations set by BIS for safety, performance and quality.

Therefore, ISI-marked helmets sold on small roadside shops and footpaths that costs anything between ₹100 – ₹500 are not at all safe and are fake helmets that come with counterfeit ISI badging. The genuine ISI-marked helmets that confirm the minimum safety regulations are costly and will be above ₹1,000. The law that has made wearing helmets mandatory is a ploy for traffic police to make money.

Different Types Of Helmets

Full-Face Helmets: These types of helmets cover the rider’s whole face and the entire head. It offers maximum protection and will save the rider from severe brain injuries and internal hemorrhage to the head and skull. Full face helmets are also helpful in stopping the wind blast from directly blowing on the face, and reduces wind and traffic noise levels to keep the rider stress-free while riding. It protects the head from sunlight and rain due to the presence of certain materials that seal any gap when worn. A minor drawback in the full-face helmets is their weight which ranges anywhere from 1,500-1,800gms, whereas their counterpart’s weights are less. But full-face helmets are designed in such a way so that the rider does not feel the weight and can continue riding for a long time.

Open Face or Three-quarter Helmet: This type of helmet covers only the rider’s head while the face is open. People wearing these types of helmets at the time of the accident are more prone to facial injuries. Wind blast and noise of wind and traffic will also come into the helmet, creating higher wind resistance. It does not protect the rider’s face from sun and rain. These types of helmets are helpful in short-distance commutes, and it is easier to communicate while riding with these helmets on but also increases the risk of an accident. It is also easier to take a sip of water without opening the helmet or wiping sweat and dust off the face. This helmet is for those who feel uncomfortable in full-face helmets.

Half-Shell Helmets: The other name for these types of helmets is the skull helmet. Riding safety offered by these helmets is minimum. It protects the top, side and back part of the head, leaving the face and jaws open to injuries that can be fatal. These helmets come with a very cheap price tag and comply with the mandatory helmet laws, making them a good option for parents who ride with their children and women. Wearing a half shell helmet is like not wearing one and, therefore, should be banned immediately. There is greater wind resistance while riding, putting a strain on the neck and can sometimes cause injuries too. As the face remains open, it falls prey to dust, heat, rain, wind and splinters from the road. These helmets provide more harm than any good to the rider. People who are opting or are thinking to opt for these helmets, please reconsider your decision.

Modular Or Hybrid Helmets: These types of helmets have an adjustable front that can be moved up like a half-face helmet and can be moved down to become a full-face helmet. It is basically a combination of both the full face as well as half-face helmets. Its weight is a bit more because of the design and builds that make it a hybrid helmet. The cheaper version of these helmets does not provide the required protection, and wind noise, dust, rain can be felt inside the helmet. People opting for these types of helmets need to spend more money so as to meet the required safety and protection.

How Is Protection Offered By Full-Face Helmets?

The protection offered by a full-face helmet is maximum as it not only protects our skull but also save our jaws and chin during impact. Safety provided by full-face helmets is more than half-face helmets, which offers protection only to the skull and leaves the face for injuries. It’s always recommended to wear full-face helmets. But in terms of comfort and convenience, half-face helmets are more common, and it even complies ISI certification.

The essential components of a helmet that work together in providing protection: An outer shell, an inner cushion liner that absorbs impact, the cushion padding that gives comfort, and a fast-release retention system.

  • What is visible from the outside is the outer shell. It is usually made up of polycarbonate plastic, Kevlar, or fiberglass. These materials are thin and hard, yet it is designed in such a way to compress when it hits a hard, rigid surface.
  • Right after the helmets outer shell lies the inner cushion liner or polypropylene or expanded polystyrene (EPS), which absorbs impact as well as provides comfort. Upon impact, the outer shell compresses, and the EPS liner absorbs the force and distributes it throughout the helmet reducing the direct effect on the head. Some helmet shells lose only the colour and lamination, whereas some crack and break depending on the extent of impact and quality of the helmet.
  • Next comes the padding that provides comfort. It is basically a combination of weatherproof soft foam and cloth layer. This padding is responsible for providing comfort while riding and also gives protection from wind blast and noise. Some helmets come with the feature where this layer can be opened for cleaning purposes or for fixing an intercom device.
  • The final component of the helmet is the retention system or also called the chin strap. This component is responsible for keeping the helmet over our head during a crash. The strap needs to be appropriately fixed, or else it will come off during a collision and expose our head to fatal injuries. Modern helmets come with different types of retention systems along with a fast-release system to easily open or close the strap when required but won’t open during a crash.

ISI Marked Standard Helmets

The standard mark governed by the regulations of the Bureau Of Indian Standards Act, 1986 is IS 4151 for Indian helmets required for two-wheeler riding. The helmets which are covered under this standard do not comply for high-speed events or moto-sports competition. Several stringent tests are conducted, and after passing those tests, the helmets come to the commercial markets. For example, a load of about 150 kilograms is applied to test the retention system. Non-ISI helmets that are locally made do not come after such stringent testing, and therefore it is inevitable that they will come off the rider’s head during impact. ISI helmets also have to pass impact tests, slide tests and many more to conform to the mandated performance, quality and durability.

Foreign helmet brands have to comply with global safety agencies that look after the helmet’s safety before they hit the international markets. For example, US helmet brands need to confirm DOT specifications and regulations while European brands are governed under ECE specifications. The level of protection offered by DOT, ECE are comparably the same as ISI. However, Indian police are unaware of these global standards and do not accept helmets complying with DOT and ECE compliant helmets. There is another testing agency whose standards are much higher than ISI, DOT and ECE, called SNELL, whose certification requires more extensive testing. However, SNELL-certified helmets are expensive than other helmets because of their superior safety standards.

Differences Between Real And Fake Helmets

Helmets sold on the small roadside shops and footpaths are made up of cheap plastic, fiber and other cheap, low-quality materials. Fake ISI-mark tends to come off the helmets after a specific time. They are prone to crack or shatter in an accident, and the chances of severe head injuries are very high. During a crash, low-quality helmet’s flawed retention system will fail and eventually, the helmet will come off, leading to brutal skull and brain injuries. As the law has mandated everyone to wear helmets so two-wheeler riders prefer cheap helmets to save themselves from police but, in turn, risking their lives. A person who can afford expensive motorcycles can also spend a little more money on their own safety equipment only if they want to. Several riding communities have taken up the initiative to aware people of the different types of safety standards and the safety provided by the helmets.

Experimental Tests To Differentiate Between Real And Fake Helmets

Several experimental tests on helmets have been conducted by many riding communities, and YouTube channels focused on safety gears and riding communities. The main focus of the trial was to compare the strength of Indian branded helmets with a few local ones. Some of the famous Indian brands, such as Studds, Vega and Steelbird, and some new unbranded locally manufactured helmets, were taken up as test elements. A 7kg weighing sledgehammer was used from a height of seven feet over the helmet. The results that came forward are shocking, and they are as follows:

  • The full-face helmet with a fake ISI number also met a similar fate and was shattered to pieces.
  • When the sledgehammer collided with the top of the half-face helmet, the hammer crushed through the outer shell exposing its quality.
  • The consequences of the third local helmet with the fake ISI print was also the same. The sledgehammer crushed through the outer shell of the helmet, shattering it to pieces.
  • Now, when the three branded helmets were tested, the results were significantly different from the local ones. The branded helmets from Vega, Studds and Steelbirds, stood firm and the massive force of impact by the sledgehammer was absorbed during the crash test. The helmets faced three blows from three different sides, and each of the impacts was absorbed by the safety techs present in the helmet. The helmets survived the test with minor scratches, and a paint job will again make them new. This quality test of a helmet indicates clearly whether a helmet will be able to save lives or not during an accident.
  • The main motive of these crash tests was to make people aware of the safety standards of different helmets.

According to a study in 2016 by the United Nations, in an accident, two-wheeler riders are the most vulnerable to severe injuries and even death.

According to the data provided by the concerned ministry, deaths accounting for 29.82% of total road accidents happened due to the absence of helmets. Below standard helmets are mostly round plastic cases with foam and cloth that do nothing to protect a rider. Unfortunately, people prefer such helmets over standard helmets to avoid paying fine and, in turn, forget to save their precious heads. Prices of ISI-marked helmets range from ₹ 750 to ₹ 4000. On the other hand, a DOT, ECE certified starts from ₹ 4000, and a SNELL certified helmet starts from ₹15,000 and goes over ₹1 lakh, depending on the build quality, materials used (Carbon fiber helmets are more costly than polycarbonate plastic or Kevlar based helmets) and model.

The Government has played no role to stop the sale of fake helmets. According to a reply received from the Right to Information (RTI) query, between 2004 and 2014, below-standard helmet users have never been fined by the police.

In January 2018, police in Mysore and Bengaluru started imposing fines on riders who were found wearing half-face helmets, and non-ISI helmets. But the crackdown was called off on non-ISI marked helmets because BIS clarified that fake ISI marked helmets cannot be visually identified. They don’t have any possible way to differentiate between them.

The fake helmet manufacturer should at least provide proper padding inside the helmet to prevent concussion, a most common injury, rather than playing with people’s lives.

How To Check The Genuineness Of ISI Certified Helmet?

Genuine ‘ISI‘certified helmets come with a print at their back that one can differentiate from the fake ones after a careful look. Manufacturer’s code (Central Mass and License or CM/L) below the ISI print and IS code IS 4151 above the ISI print will be available at the back of the helmet. The ISI print is laminated and non-removable. The helmets come with other details such as the size of the helmet, the mass of the helmet, year of manufacture and manufacturer’s name or trademark. Several reputed Indian helmet brands are available in India, such as Studds, Steelbird, Vega, Axor, Royal Enfield helmets, TVS helmets and many moreSome of the prominent foreign brands are also available such as LS2, AGV, MT helmets, HJC, Shiro etc. Visit the respective brand’s official website to know more about the brand and its product-related details.

Process To Verify ISI Marks Of The Helmet

Visit BIS official website

Under Product Certification head, visit Online Information and click on Application/License related.

Now go to Know your Product/IS No head

Type the product name, i.e., helmet.

A screen with various ISI standard will appear

  • IS 2745: 1983 Identification For Non-Metal Helmet for Firemen and Civil Defence Personnel
  • IS 2925: 1984 Identification for Industrial Safety Helmets
  • IS 4151: 1993 Identification of Protective helmets for motorcycle riders.
  • IS 9562: 1980 Identification of non-metal helmet for police force

Now click on IS 4151, where it will show a complete list of all license holders in the country.

Now press ctrl+f to search the page with CM/L no: 8697816 present below the ISI mark. The manufacturer’s details will be provided.

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