Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sri Lanka bans Tamil motorcyclists from wearing helmet

In most countries of the world it is a legal requirement to wear a helmet whilst riding a motorcycle. The same is also true for Sri Lanka.

However, the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has decided to apply this law to the Tamils of Jaffna in a twisted form. Sources from Jaffna told this website that the SLA has banned them from wearing helmets while riding motorcycles. As most motor cyclists wear helmets as standard practice, this new order by the SLA seems absurd. Reports suggest that many motorcyclists are starting to use buses or walk to their destinations than risk their life riding a motorcycle without a helmet.

Meanwhile the SLA has attempted to justify its orders by claiming that attacks on its checkpoints were conducted by men wearing helmets and that this makes the job of identifying those responsible for the attacks harder. One wonders if the same order would be enforced in Colombo should criminal acts be conducted by men wearing helmets.

A helmet protects the head from injury if motorcyclist gets involved in an accident. Helmets protect the head by reducing the rate at which the skull and brain would be accelerated or decelerated by an impact. The helmet acts as a shock absorber. According to studies in the US, under universal helmet laws, most states experienced 20% to 40% lower fatalities rates from motorcycle accidents than during periods without laws or under limited laws regarding protective head gear.

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