Helmet usage among student motorcyclists in Malaysia — Amar-Singh HSS

AUGUST 14 — We would like to thank Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) for their recent enforcement at schools to support the safety of students. The enforcement activities by PDRM revealed the problem of children travelling to and from school in a dangerous manner, ie on motorcycles without helmets.  

The Clinical Research Centre Perak (CRC Perak) would like to highlight the extensive and serious failure of student motorcyclist and pillion rider to use helmets. We conducted a study in October 2016 and randomly sampled 20 out of 70 national secondary schools present in the Kinta district. Trained researcher observed usage of helmet and chin strap of student arriving to school via motorcycle. 

A total of 4193 students were observed arriving at the 20 randomly selected national schools. The majority arrived by motorcycle (1637 students, 39 per cent). The remaining students arrived by car/van (33 per cent), school bus (9 per cent), bicycle 272 (7 per cent) or walked (12 per cent) to school. Of the 1637 students that arrived via motorcycle, almost half (44 per cent) were not using a helmet. Those who wore helmet were not necessarily safe as 15 per cent did not use the chin strap. Hence more than half of all our children travelling on motorcycle to school are risking their lives.

The infographic shows the breakdown of this unsafe behaviour with respect to a student travelling alone, with a pillion rider or with a non-student (parent or relative). Note that student pillion riders were the least protected if brought to school by an adult, suggesting the failure of parents to support their children.

This large study clearly demonstrates that more than 50 per cent of students arriving to school by motorcycle do not wear helmets or chin strap. These children are exposed to risk of severe injury. An earlier study by CRC Perak showed that on average 1,000 children die on our roads yearly, the vast majority motorcycle related. In addition four times as many children (4,000) get serious injuries. For those of us who are Paediatricians and run Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) for children, it has become our daily horror to manage mangled children due to motorcycle crashes. Some die and many sadly become permanently disabled due to head injuries. 

We are aware as a nation about this long standing, on-going crisis of motorcycle injuries. But we may not be aware of the enormous impact it is having on the lives of our children and we have yet to put in place any concerted action to change the situation. No child should travel to school on a motorcycle without adequate protection i.e. a certified helmet, properly strapped. Parents have a vital role to play here but seem to fail in the majority of children. We hope the Ministry of Education and school authorities can work proactively with the Road Transport Department and PDRM to enforce helmet and chin strap usage among student arriving by motorcycle. We hope teachers can play a role to help ensure that no child is allowed to travel to school in an unsafe manner.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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