Responsible motorcycle ownership-A A +A
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
SHE has been in a deep sleep-like state for more than a month now. Her throat has been perforated surgically to attach a tube that is directly connected to a mechanical ventilator to assist her in what is ordinarily a passive and natural phenomenon -- to breathe.
Being in this vulnerable and unconscious state, a very small plastic tube that is as tiny and lengthy as a typical electrical wire of several centimeters has been inserted through her nose and down to her stomach to serve as a passageway for her food that is prepared in liquid form. Her fluid requirements, including her medicines, are administered by way of another plastic tube inserted through the veins on her hands and occasionally feet.
Her shaven head tells the story of her recent trip to the operating room involving the said anatomical structure.
Being bedridden, she has to be turned to sides at intervals to prevent pressure ulcers.
This has been the daily routine for Sol (not her real name), a 19-year-old female confined in a surgical ward of a government-run hospital in Northern Mindanao.
Sol sustained severe head injuries and multiple fractures of the limbs after a road mishap one night while riding in tandem with a friend in a motorcycle.
According to Sol’s elder sister, before the accident, the former had asked their mother permission to go out with friends. But Sol never mentioned anything about what would be their activities. Her family just learned then that she had joined a dangerous drag race and that had been rushed to a hospital and was under critical conditions.
Upon arriving to the hospital, she was immediately wheeled to the operating room. Her surgeons had her head opened to relieve the swelling that was forming inside -- an operation called craniectomy.
According to the records of the Department of Health (DOH), accidents, including motorcycle accidents, ranked fourth among the top 10 causes of mortality in the country.
Based on the admissions records of the surgical ward where Sol had been confined, there had been a total of 82 patients that had been admitted due to motorcycle accidents in Northern Mindanao alone from April to July of this year. Nine of the said patients died or simply two out of every 10 patients confined had passed away.
Recently, Republic Act 10054 otherwise known as the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 is in full effect to secure and protect the motorcycle operators or drivers, including their passengers, from the ruinous and injurious effects of life threatening accidents and crashes.
According to the Helmet Law, all motorcycle riders -- drivers and back riders -- are to wear standard protective motorcycle helmets while driving in any type of road or high way and regardless of the distance of the destination.
The law also mandates that all manufacturers and importers of motorcycle helmets are to secure a license to really establish the caliber of their products.
Lastly, the law also provides for the penalties for any person caught not wearing the standard protective motorcycle helmet depending on the frequency of the offense -- P1,500 for first offense; P3,000 for the second offense; P5,000 for the third offense and P10,000 plus confiscation of driver’s license for the fourth and succeeding offenses.
But are motorcycle accidents really a sole consequence of non-wearing of helmets that the government has come up with the Helmet law for these types of population?
How about the groups or population that intentionally modifies the anatomy or structures of motorcycles for the sake of style or aesthetic purposes?
There are male patients of the same surgical ward where Sol has been confined who also had had motorcycle accidents. Most of them confessed that prior to the accident, they had modified the safety features and over accessorized their motorcycle to project a “macho” image.
Such modifications, they shared, include removing side mirrors, changing their default tires to something more “hip” and “in” by preferring thin tires over the traditional thick tires that are not so pleasing to the eyes.
These men, mostly between late teens to mid-30’s, had all preferred art over safety.
Other groups that the government may want to look into are those that engage in high-risk behaviors like engagement in dangerous drag races or exhibitionism to gain social attention or approval not minding the eminent danger that waits before reaching the finish line.
In 2010, a group of researchers from the De La Salle University in Manila did a study on the assessment of motorcycle accident causes in the Philippines.
The said study attempted to determine the separate and interactive effects of environment and driver-dependent factors such as age, helmet usage, risk taking behaviors, day, time and month of the accident, junction type, movement, road character, surface condition, weather, traffic sector, and lighting conditions in predicting motorcycle accidents. These information were gathered from 186 motorcycle users.
The results revealed the following: (1) young drivers have higher tendency for risky behaviors because the young is an inexperienced driver and has full of energy and are always involved in speed driving; (2) when there is heavy rain, there is less chances of having an accident because drivers typically slow down their driving because of the slippery road compared to a fair weather; (3) accidents are three times likely to occur on T-junctions because a turning driver usually fails to see an approaching motorcycle or to adequately judge the time available to cross the junction because motorcycles are less conspicuous and (4) drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents in non-junctions because drivers tend to accelerate and exhibit aggressive driving.
After an accident, a patient and his loved-one would spend thousands of pesos to cover health care expenses like daily medicines, rent for the medical equipment use and diagnostic exams and professional fees for the health care providers.
Somehow after knowing these facts, one may come to reflect whether that Helmet Law is enough to really save the many “Sols” out there?
To date, Sol is still under coma. But her family and loved ones brim with optimism that one day she will awaken from her bitter sleep-like state and move on with her life carrying the wisdom of her unfortunate experience.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 07, 2012.