Which is worse: a badly damaged helmet or a badly damaged skull?

Sports lovers all over the world were shocked by reports that former motor racing champion Michael Schumacher had suffered brain injuries in a skiing accident at Meribel in the French Alps on December 29, 2013. According to this report in DNA, he “is thought to have been travelling at up to 50mph when he hit a rock buried under the snow … He was catapulted into the air, landing head-first on another rock. It was reported that he hit his head so hard that his ski helmet “broke in two”.”

It is now reported that Schumacher’s condition has improved, but he is not out of danger.

I am reminded of an incident that took place some years back. My neighbour was driving his scooter at about 30 km/hour. The front wheel got stuck in a pothole, due to which he was thrown off the scooter. He landed on his head and lost consciousness immediately. Fortunately, he received first aid immediately and was rushed to the hospital. He was discharged after almost a week, but was still in a state of shock and was advised rest at home. He recovered sufficiently to be allowed to resume working only after about 2 weeks.

My neighbour got away without any major problem because he had been wearing a helmet. His helmet did not break, but it was badly damaged. Without a doubt, he would have died or would have had long-term health problems if he had not been wearing a helmet. Ironically, while he had been driving a scooter for many years, he had started wearing a helmet just a few months before his accident only because the state government had made helmets compulsory for 2-wheeler drivers. I recall he had severely criticised the state government for this particular rule, claiming that the rule had been introduced only because the ruling party was getting kickbacks from helmet manufacturers. We all hoped he now realised the importance of wearing a helmet.

A few months after this accident, the state government was voted out in the assembly elections. Among other things, the party that was voted to power had promised to withdraw the ‘Helmet Rule’. The day after the election results were announced, many 2-wheeler drivers all over the state stopped wearing helmets. One of them was my neighbour, who, just a few months earlier, had been saved by his helmet!

Why can’t 2-wheeler drivers understand that a helmet protects them from head injuries? Some people complain that wearing a helmet leads to hair loss! I’m quite sure this is not correct since I had not lost any hair despite having worn a helmet every day for a few years. Even if it is correct, the risk of being bald is better than the risk of death or long-term health problems.

Which is worse: a badly damaged helmet or a badly damaged skull?

Why don’t we understand that most, if not all laws are made in our interest, and we must comply with laws for our own good, not merely to escape punishment?