Is it Helmet or Element?


I don’t want to sound sarcastic, but the attitude of most Nigerians to matters arising is either so interesting or repulsive, depending on how it appeals to your sense of judgment. Example is the recent motorbike safety rule which involved the compulsory use of helmet. We are always waiting for someone to call (or force) our attention to them, yet, these things have been in existence for as long as we know it. And immediately the pretended awareness is created, we literally overdo things either by obeying the law or circumventing it, or perhaps bad mouthing it. If not, how has it become that the word helmet now sounds like an abrasive element to the ears?

Anyway helmet is not synonymous with element, literarily, but one product that finds same range implication with the helmet is the 2009 Honda Element.

The expressiveness of the Honda 2009 Element is an affirmation of Honda’s experience and expertise in building vehicles rich in reliability and socially in tune. This is proudly displayed in the 2009 Element crossover. Some call it bread-in-box mobile, I call it the safety-in-the-box Honda!

The helmet-shaped carrier’s most noticeable action is up front as the boxy cutie displays Honda’s new corporate look. Sexy rounded fog lamps nicely flirting below a pair of cool head lamps flanking the six (2 vertical, 2 horizontal, 2 connecting the lower horizontal edge to the bottom of the vertical edges) sided opening. The front fenders have also been restyled and squared the wheel arches all the way round. This time, the Element exhibits a more mature look since the outgoing ones proved more popular with the older generation, contrary to Honda’s expectation. And out there in the rear is where some newly shaped tail lights find companion alongside a subtly revised back.

A vehicle like this isn’t about looks. It’s about function and practicality, which is one of the reasons it appeals to an older crowd. It offers just the right amount of space without being wasteful or unwieldy. And really, that’s what people buy it for; it’s super useful. Vehicles targeted towards the younger crowd have always done well with the older one. They have homes they can leverage to get financing. They are the ones with buying power (especially in this economy). And, most importantly, they want to feel young! They may not drive down to the beach with a bunch of friends, but they like the sentiment and that plays a big role in their purchase decision.

Even though, there seems no difference in the interior of the trim, I don’t see the need for one anyway. The 2009 Element retains its reconfigurable seats and garden-hose ready upholstery, updated with the latest gadgets, which include Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera for automatic transmission models, USB digital connectivity and Honda satellite-linked navigation system, which for now is optional for Nigerian factor.

The bas LX model comes with a four-speaker stereo with a CD player, while the EX and SC models gets a 270-watt, seven-speaker audio system that will read MP3 and WMA CDs, standard with XM Satellite Radio and steering wheel controls and features a 6.5-in. sub woofer located at the bottom-center of the dash.

Element SC models get an exclusive center console with a built-in auxiliary audio input jack, EX models get a new console with a built-in cooler, and LX models gets a basic console. Element EX and SC models also pick up a new overhead storage system, which is based on Honda’s Railport Vehicle Personalization System. The three-compartment storage area is modular and can be reconfigured based on individual customer needs. SC models also get exclusive Piano Black trim, copper-colored highlights, unique fabrics, and a floor covered with carpet rather than rubber.

It’s likely the Accord’s 170hp K24 be housed in the bonnet, which makes more sense. Accidents happen. But since the Honda is yet to make things official, the safety measures incorporated into the outgoing might still be retained, at least there is no much difference.

Although, the small SUV concept is well appreciated, but this one is not cheap and Honda is glaringly competing with the CRV, which is better in every way and doesn’t cost that much. I would prefer rather the much more useful and prettier RAV4. For me, the Helmet is ugly! What do you think?

Killing the proverbial Elephant

Every now and then, a journalist has a story dumped in his lap when he least expects it. For me, the official compulsion of a rider to use helmet is such a story.

Taking a critical look at the whole thing, the bye-law can be critiqued in two ways; either as another act of official hysteria that would soon pass away or a pursuit of permanent solution to the incessant head injury related deaths on motorbikes popularly called Okada.

Putting all these aside, and being happy for the time being, even if the bye-law will soon be thrown aside, I guess it is only proper to applaud the introduction of the compulsory usage of helmet for users of motorbikes for reasons I want to review here.

Comparison to a car, motorcycle is a very dangerous form of transportation, whether the rider thinks otherwise or not. In fact, it is believed in some quarters that it should be banned as a means of carriage, although some others think such action might be too extreme. Generally, those I spoke with canvassed the fact that government could make legislation to limit the excessiveness of Okada riders.

A particular study estimated that the number of deaths per mile arising from motorcycle accidents in 2006 was about 35 times the number involving cars. It’s quite alarming, those motorcycles deaths have been on the increase. The figure in 2007 actually doubled deaths recorded in 2006. Incidentally, as the death toll increases, so also the number of Okada purchased everyday. Now, this is beside the injuries consequent on Okada accidents like broken limbs, fractured skulls and spinal cords, to mention just a few.

Although, when the recent call for the compulsory use of helmets is considered, it is believed that the policy is justified, because commercial motorcyclists, with what have become their belligerent characteristics on roads, even as they find much pleasure in over-speeding and riding on the wrong side of the road anytime they feel the convenience of such law breaking act. All make them to be more prone to life threatening injuries or deaths from accident in their un-cased machine when compared to the relative security provided by a cased car.

Motorcycles are unenclosed, exposing riders to contact with hard road surfaces. And since deaths due to motorcycle accidents are associated with head injuries, the policy that enforces the use of helmet is then justified. It serves as principal counter-measure for reducing crash-related head injuries.

Several states government have made it the responsibility of government to foot medical bills of accident victims, it can be reasoned that by using helmet, which is designed to cushion and protect the head of a rider on impact with ground, the money expended on taking care of Okada accident victims can now be used in other meaningful ways.

Although, a 100 per cent protection from head injuries cannot be guaranteed with the use of the helmet just as safety belt doesn’t ensure the safety of a vehicle’s occupant in the event of an accident, it does reduce the incidences of injury. It is quite effective in preventing brain injuries, which often require extensive treatment and may result in life-long disability. According to a scientific finding, unhelmeted motorcyclists are three times more likely than helmeted riders to suffer traumatic brain damages.

However, despite all talks about helmets’ ability to protect your brain from scattering out of your skull, they still require certification of a federal body to okay the use of some particular ones. That is, even when the right motorcycle helmets are used, head injuries are much more likely with some helmets than with some. And this calls for urgent intervention by the Road Safety Commission.

The Okada riders in Kaduna recently protested the use of the helmets, either out of ignorance or they saw it as an opportunity to be recognized. Some, among other litanies of complaints across the nation, widely claimed that helmet obstructs rider’s vision, but studies show full-coverage helmets provide only minor restrictions in horizontal peripheral vision. It also found that wearing helmets restricts neither the ability to hear horn signals nor the likelihood of seeing a vehicle in an adjacent lane prior to initiating a lane change. To compensate for any restrictions in lateral vision, riders should increase their head rotation prior to a lane change. There are no differences in hearing thresholds under three helmet conditions: no helmet, partial coverage, and full coverage. The noise generated by a motorcycle is so loud that any reduction in hearing capability that may result from wearing a helmet, is inconsequential. Sound loud enough to be heard above the engine can be heard when wearing a helmet.

Another good thing about the use of helmet is the decline in motorcycle thefts, mainly because some potential thieves would not have helmets, and not wearing helmet would attract police notice. One thing is sure, with the introduction of the law, the rate of thefts would reduce drastically.

All said and done, one Yoruba (an ethnic tribe in southwestern Nigeria) maxim says that different knives are expected at the death of an elephant, this could be said of the different kinds of helmets now being exhibited on the roads. I think the riders should really be warned, because you would not imagine the kinds of eyesore of objects masquerading as helmets being displayed and forced on people to wear by Okada riders. These objects range from calabash type helmet, rugby football type helmet, military type helmet, space type helmet, knight-type helmet, and construction type safety helmet.

The standard should be either full-face motorcycle helmets like the X-11 and TZ-R, and open-faced motorcycle helmets, like the RJ Platinum R, St. Cruz, and J-Wing. Although any of these might set your pockets back at ten thousand naira (N10, 000.00).

There is no gain-saying that with the new law, high reduction in death rate by motorcyclist crash will be recorded, but then the different knives that are appearing at the death of this proverbial elephant should be regulated.

Written by ol’Victor Ojelabi