Brian’s Column: Your skull isn’t made of diamond! Use your helmet!


Monday, 3 February 2014 , Brian Bilal Mwebaze

Brian's Column: Your skull isn’t made of diamond! Use your helmet!

brian s column logoIn this month’s edition of Brian’ column focuses on the importance of the helmet! In many parts of the world, motorcycle use has rapidly increased yet protective measures have not gone hand in hand. Brian explains the importance of helmet usage on two wheels and explores some myths behind its none-use.

Read more Brian’s Columns

At the corner of what has been, without a doubt, the month-of-being-broke:-thanks to the over-flashing-of-money during the festive season, coupled with the New Year excitement, lies arguably the most awaited month of the year! Ladies and gentlemen, to be precise, It’s February! Hurray! For our amazing young superstars, school is calling! Colleges and Universities gotta open officially…so, dear parents, go to your banks and start depositing our tuition already. For those who are working, don’t worry, February is gonna be a great month, its short, you know what I mean (wink) Back to us, it’s SAFETY all the way…this time, on the HELMET!

daft punk
While Daft Punk have made the helmet cooler than cool, proper usage of the helmet on two wheels and helmets which are up to safety standards continue to save lives in a road traffic collision.

Along with a global (Africa to be exact) increase in motorization, particularly in low-income and middle income countries, the use of motorized two-wheelers and bicycles is growing rapidly in many places and they come along with a number of names, don’t they?:- Boda Boda in Eastern Africa, Okada in Nigeria, Dewar in Cameroon, Boney (slang in South Africa). As a result, there are increasing fatalities and injuries among users of two-wheelers, with head injuries being a major concern and most common cause of death.
Motorcycle and bicycle helmets are effective both in preventing head injuries and in reducing the severity of injuries sustained by riders and passengers of two-wheelers. Unfortunately, in many countries the use of helmets is low. Many young people around the world die in motorcycle collisions: In Uganda, 61 people are involved in Road Traffic Crash everyday, with stats from Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Cameroon and Zimbabwe jaw dropping! If you aint from these countries, don’t consider yourself aloof of the hand of a Road Traffic Crash as a lot of crashes remain unreported!

axbvbvv 700b
Recently, this image was shared on popular viral site 9GAG wth the caption, ‘Always Wear Your Helmet, Folks’

Wait, you must have been told or heard or even experienced all the excuses for not having or using a helmet! “It’s just a hat! It’s uncomfortable! It’s bloody hot! I can’t see well with it! Its dirty man! It smells like…” Mention it…
The fact is: A helmet protects your head: Helmet use is effective at reducing head injuries: Helmet programmes are effective at getting helmets on heads: Needless to say, head injuries will come along with complications like brain damage, nervous system break down, and o fcourse then, you won’t be able to play your favorite sport, go to the movies, help your parents at home as you’d’ve wanted! Plus, it’s bloody expensive to be treated let alone, the economic, social burden that comes along with that.
Without really, taking you deep into the science of going to planet mars:

motorcycle crashFirst things first: Your skull and my skull is made up of a variety of minerals but mainly calcium, an element which makes the skull-the hardest bone on a human body! But, wait, calcium isn’t anywhere as close to being hard as Diamond or Gold! Upon pressure, calcium will break, while Diamond and Gold may twist to absorb the pressure! Ok, so during a motorcycle or bicycle crash there are two principal mechanisms of injury to the brain: through direct contact and through acceleration–deceleration. Each mechanism causes different types of injuries.


When a motorcycle or bicycle is involved in a collision, the rider is often thrown from the cycle.

If the rider’s head hits an object, such as the ground, the head’s forward motion is stopped, but the brain, having its own mass, continues to move forward until it strikes the inside of the skull. It then rebounds, striking the opposite side of the skull. This type of injury can result in anything from a minor head injury, such as concussion, to a fatal head injury.
Head injuries that result from either contact or acceleration–deceleration injuries are themselves divided into two categories: open or closed head injuries. Most traumatic brain injuries are the result of closed head injuries – that is, there is no open wound to the brain.

So, how does the helmet help…lets go to the point straight away, shall we?

  1. It reduces the deceleration of the skull, and hence the brain movement, by managing the impact. The soft material incorporated in the helmet absorbs some of the impact and therefore the head comes to a halt more slowly. This means that the brain does not hit the skull with such great force.
  2. It spreads the forces of the impact over a greater surface area so that they are not concentrated on particular areas of the skull.
  3. It prevents direct contact between the skull and the impacting object by acting as a mechanical barrier between the head and the object

What makes a helmet a helmet, huh?
Please see the photos below for your judgement 😉

helmet diagram who
(Adapted from: Helmets: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2006.)

Does having 2 kgs of good looking hair on my head good enough? How about wearing a turban? Do I really need this retention system or face shield on my helmet? Is it worth having a helmet of your own?-It costs around 10-20USD. Did I mention that February comes along with #ValentinesDay? Well, make sure you are on the safe side of the game! And for those (like me hahaha) who aint got any #Valentine business…just #STAYSAFE ☺

(See this article here too: http://www.youthforroadsafety.org/activities/news/news_item/t/brian_s_column_your_skull_isnt_made_of_diamond_use_your_helmet)

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