Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Strengthen laws for hard-headed riders

Published:Thursday | March 5, 2015 | 12:00 AM


I read with interest the publication in this newspaper ('Cops no worry for lawbreaking bikers' - March 3, 2015) highlighting the practice of riders who display a reckless disregard for life and for the law, because they refuse to wear helmets.

What frightens me are the bikers who sail down our roadways with pillion riders on board and without protective helmets, with no care in the world for other road users, and who dangerously overtake and disobey traffic signals, because they appear to be above the law.

Since we seldom can predict the intentions of drivers (cars, motor trucks, etc), and since we obviously have no control over their actions on the road, riding without a helmet creates an unnecessary risk which could result in atrocities such as brain injury, loss of limb and death, and the devastation which comes with it that families have to deal with.

There are just too many obstacles on our roads with which riders have to contend for them not to wear helmets. Why on earth, then, would riders risk their own lives and that of others by failing to do so? Is it that permanent brain damage and the high costs of hospitalisation and therapy are the logical alternatives to wearing protective headgear? Is it that helmets are not attractive? Do families (including the children) endorse this new trend of reckless riding?

As is the case with some other acts of Parliament, our Road Traffic Act is outdated and did not go far enough. As a consequence, riders take advantage of the fact that there is a lack of or limited stringency in the application of the law. A fine of $2,000 in the case of the first offence and $5,000 in the case of the second offence is a contemptibly small penalty for helmetless riders to pay, when the potential consequences of their reckless actions are weighed.

It would be an objective good for Parliament to amend the Road Traffic Act to include more rigorous monetary impositions, and incurring harsher demerit points, which would lead faster to the suspension of road licences. Riders who pose a threat to themselves and to others have no place on our roads.

Law enforcement has a critical role to play as well. The police should be more vigilant in nabbing perpetrators by increasing the number and frequency of patrols and applying the law to the fullest extent, with all due respect to the human rights of the offenders.

Public education and awareness initiatives, in tandem with the foregoing, should serve as a deterrent for those riders who have no respect for their own lives, let alone that of other road users.

It is a small cost for helmet protection and taking this personal responsibility, but who can't hear must feel.