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Knights Of The Road

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives

Knights Of The Road

Geoff Maxted
June 26, 2013

Did you know that, according to some bona fide research, something like 1.2 million people are killed annually worldwide in motor accidents. That’s not a number they trumpet down at the dealership is it? The World Health Organisation states that car crashes are the leading cause of death amongst the young. It’s all sobering stuff.

Never mind. Here at Drive Write Automotive we are always looking to give out sound advice and today’s brilliant wheeze is - wait for it - helmets for drivers. No tittering at the back if you don‘t mind. Don’t mock - it’s a serious idea that someone has put some thought into. Obviously, most of us are unlikely to experience Bolivian mountain passes and the like but there are some genuine reasons why, like knights of old, we mount (And not in the biblical sense, please. That would be perverse.) our steeds with some sort of personal protection.

The evidence from the world of cycling is clear - helmets work. For example, the British racer Chris Boardman once crashed on a wet road and slid head-first into a wall at speed. His helmet unquestionably saved his life. Studies carried out by our Australians cousins have shown that brain injuries, for example, could be slashed by half if an injured driver was wearing a simple bike helmet. Furthermore, one in five fatalities could be avoided. Not such a daft idea then. In fact it was an Australian company who, in the 1980’s, first marketed a motorist’s helmet. It was an actual product that looked like a builder’s hard hat (that's it in the photo). Clearly it was before its time. Show your kids how cool the child in the back looks!

Of course, with our present collective mindset, other drivers would consider you to be a complete numpty if you were so attired, but think on. Competitors in any form of motor racing wear helmets. They have to by regulation. This is one reason why they are able to walk away from otherwise horrific shunts with their lives. Being confined to a hospital bed being fed through a tube isn’t funny.

Car accidents are mostly caused by human error and sometimes innocent people become part of the statistics. Many fatal crashes are relatively low speed events where side impact or roll-overs are involved. Even with the amount of protection afforded by modern cars - airbags, crumple zones and so on - it is still all too easy to suffer the consequences of a simple lapse of judgement.

Years ago, a lot of cyclists fought hard against the idea of wearing a helmet, thinking it to be unnecessary and an imposition, but they have been proved wrong. At the time of writing there is talk of tailgating and lane hogging becoming fixed penalty offences instead of being classed as careless driving which is a court offence. It would come as no surprise if, one day, we all have to get booted and suited to use our cars.

Remember, they all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round. Be a pioneer! Be a knight and do it right!

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