Arm-twisting people for their own good!

A few days back, a friend commented that India must be the only country where two-wheeler riders wear helmets not to protect themselves but to avoid being fined by the police!

That day, and on a couple of other days, I made it a point to check how many two-wheeler riders wore helmets. I was shocked to find that less than 2 out of 5 two-wheeler drivers wore helmets, while no pillion rider wore a helmet!

Unfortunately, two-wheeler drivers and pillion riders do not understand that it is in their own interest to wear helmets since they protect them from head injuries. Hence, there must be some way of ensuring that they wear helmets.

It is clear that the police in most parts of India do not strictly enforce the rule that makes it mandatory for all two-wheeler riders to wear helmets. Is there some way in which we, as private individuals, do what the police should be doing without actually ‘taking the law into our hands’?

As I had mentioned in my post Does the red light mean STOP or not?, I rode a 2-wheeler for the first few years of my sales career. Despite the fact that it was not compulsory at that time, I always wore a helmet. Later, as a manager, I always insisted that every member of my team wore a helmet while riding a 2-wheeler. I ensured compliance by announcing that I would not authorise monthly fuel reimbursement vouchers of those persons who did not use a helmet every working day. Most people complied willingly. Some persons resisted, but eventually complied.

I believe that each one of us can act similarly without much, if any difficulty.

First of all, each one of us must wear a helmet when (s)he drives a two-wheeler or rides pillion. Secondly, we must use friendly arm-twisting to make our employees, juniors and children wear helmets when they ride two-wheelers. Thirdly, we must try to make other two-wheeler riders known to us aware of the need to wear helmets.

We may think that doing this may make us unpopular with the people around us, but I know from experience that most people eventually realise that they were arm-twisted for their own good!

Related posts:
Which is worse: a badly damaged helmet or a badly damaged skull?
Law-enforcers and law-makers, or law-breakers?

Does the red light mean STOP or not?

spicysaturday[1]“CRRRR….USH!” Everybody in the AC Chair Car coach turned to stare at me as I nonchalantly unscrewed the cap of the mineral water bottle, confirmed that the bottle had indeed been bent out of shape, and screwed the cap back.

Just as I was about to get up from my aisle seat to walk towards the dustbin near the toilet, the lady in the window seat nervously asked me, almost in a whisper, “Why did you do that, sir? You frightened everybody!”

I replied, “Madam, I did what’s supposed to be done. Look here. The label says, “CRUSH THE BOTTLE AFTER USE.” Every such bottle is supposed to be crushed so that it cannot be reused, but has to be sent for recycling. By doing this, we ensure that the bottle is not refilled with ordinary water and sold to an unsuspecting customer.”

“They put such instructions on the bottle because they are supposed to. Nobody follows these instructions,” she insisted.

Realising there was no point in trying to convince this person, I replied, “OK, madam. I’m sorry if I caused you any inconvenience.”

She continued to look at me with a mixture of pity (for me) and concern (for herself) for a few seconds, and then returned to reading her magazine. I walked to the dustbin, disposed of the bottle and returned to my seat.

This is a common occurrence whenever I empty a mineral water bottle in a public place. Strangely, despite the explicit instruction on the label, I know of only one other person who religiously crushes used mineral water bottles after use: my cousin. Must be some kind of family idiosyncrasy!

This is one example of how many of us do not follow some simple and explicitly stated instructions, rules or laws, despite knowing fully well that they have been made for our own good.

Another example: irrespective of whether or not it is compulsory by law, every 2-wheeler rider knows that a helmet protects him/her from head injuries. Yet, it’s common to see bareheaded 2-wheeler riders of all ages and genders. I rode a 2-wheeler for the first few years of my sales career. Despite the fact that it was not compulsory at that time, I always wore a helmet. Later, as a manager, I always insisted that every member of my team wore a helmet while riding a 2-wheeler. I ensured compliance by announcing that I would not authorise monthly fuel reimbursement vouchers of those persons who did not use a helmet every working day. Most people complied willingly, but some persons complained that wearing a helmet would lead to hair loss! I told them that, firstly, this is not correct since I had myself not lost any hair despite having worn a helmet every day for a few years, and secondly, the risk of being bald is better than the risk of death or a head injury. One smart guy replied that he was not afraid of death. I told him there was no guarantee he would die if he had an accident. What if he didn’t die, but became dysfunctional? Would he like his family to go through the trauma? Then, I reminded him that, if he was not wearing a helmet when he had an accident, his accident insurance and/or health insurance claims would probably be rejected. If he died, his life insurance claim would probably be rejected. He had the sense to refrain from replying!

To quote Oprah Winfrey on the chaotic traffic in Indian cities: “What is it with the red lights? I mean, does the red light mean stop or not? Or is it just there for your entertainment, I do not get it. What is this? I mean the light is red and everybody just keeps going.”

What do you do with empty mineral water bottles?

If you know of other instructions, rules or laws that we generally do not follow, despite knowing fully well that they have been made for our own good, please share them with us.

Why do people not follow these instructions, rules and laws?

What should be done to ensure that all people follow these instructions, rules and laws?