Since the beginning of 2021, the intensified law enforcement activities of the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (i-ACT) conducted a major operation to catch violators of common traffic rules around the country. Unfortunately, these operations also revealed that there are still a lot of motorcycle riders who continue to defy the Motorcycle Helmet Act (Republic Act 10054), which was signed into law 12-years ago.
This month alone, i-ACT issued citation tickets to more than 200 motorcycle riders because they were not wearing the proper helmet designed specifically for motorcycle riding. On a separate occasion not too long ago, one guy went viral on social media after being caught. While apprehended, he justified, “Yung backride ang may violation, hindi ako” (It was my pillion who had the helmet violation, not me).
Besides being the law, we’ve compiled a list of common excuses why there are a lot of motorcycle riders who still refuse to wear the single most effective protection one can have while riding a motorcycle – the (standard) helmet. We're listing it down here because they don't work, they won't get you out of a ticket, and they should never be used again.
1. May bibilhin lang sa kanto
"May bibilhin lang sa kanto (I'm just going to buy something nearby)" is probably the most commonly-used excuse a rider could say to a law enforcer when flagged down for a helmet violation.
Yes, this may even be the truth and the store may be near their home. But for some reason, they opted to ride a motorcycle rather than walk.
Unfortunately, some studies have suggested that a lot of motorcycle-related accidents happen within 5-kilometers of the victim’s home. Because a lot of these accidents involve an often complacent motorcycle rider, the chances of injury is very high.
In addition, the Motorcycle Helmet Act (Republic Act 10054) states that if the rider is on the motorcycle and the engine is running, he must already be wearing a helmet or will be in violation.
2. Standard motorcycle helmets are expensive
Based on the data compiled by i-ACT, for the hundreds of motorcycle riders that they ticketed, about 95% or so were not wearing motorcycle-specific helmets. Unfortunately, a lot of motorcycle riders still see wearing a helmet just for compliance, and not actually for head protection in the event of a crash.
Because of that mistaken belief, many riders simply buy the cheapest helmet they can find. These are often sub-standard in quality.
In addition, the cheapest helmets for sale are typically for bicycles. This is not adequate protection for the speeds a motorcycle is capable of traveling.
The irony is that many of these riders caught with bicycle helmets ride motorcycles pimped out with lots of aftermarket accessories. If you can afford these aftermarket brake levers, aux lights, footpegs, and exhausts (that cost more than a proper helmet), why can’t you buy a decent helmet?
The good news is, if budget is really a concern, there are shops that offer proper safety standard-compliant helmets on installment-basis, similar to those offered by gadget stores.
3. It's uncomfortable or inconvenient
Easily the most useless and unforgivable excuse is that wearing a helmet is uncomfortable or inconvenient.
For example, if they are on their way to work and their hair is still wet from the shower, they’d prefer NOT wearing their helmets to dry their hair. Some say sliding a full-face helmet on from the top of the head to the cheeks is troublesome.
This can be avoided by simply pulling both straps apart while sliding it on to make the opening larger. Helmets are designed to flex a little bit in order to make wearing it easier. If it's still tight, your helmet might be a size too small for you. Try getting it a size bigger.
4. My old helmet is still ok. Why should I replace it?
Many riders don't take the time to understand why helmets must follow certain safety standards and why they should be replaced periodically. As such, many of these same riders still wear their old, often dilapidated helmets as long as they still appear functional.
Unfortunately, as the motorcycle helmet becomes old, its safety rating also dwindles. Due to wear and tear, motorcycle experts recommend that motorcycle crash helmets should be replaced every 5 years, even if there is no visible damage seen.
If your helmet was dropped from a considerable height, say from the stairs, consider replacing it as the outer shell may have developed microscopic cracks that may not be visible. These tiny cracks are weak spots in the shell and can cause the helmet to fail prematurely in the event of a crash.
5. Waiting for the balikbayan box from my relative abroad.
A lot of Filipinos have relatives or friends who reside or work abroad. Unfortunately, some motorcycle riders would rather wait for their relative or friend to buy them a helmet from there. It will have to be shipped via a balikbayan box (a large box containing gifts shipped by sea) and would usually take a couple of months to arrive than just buying a quality helmet here.
These days, the price difference is not that far. Many distributors carry most major helmet brands found abroad.
Sometimes, instead of buying their relatives back home in the Philippines brand-new, unused helmets, typical Pinoy frugality kicks in, and these relatives or friends living may opt to just buy cheap, second-hand helmets from thrift shops or garage sales. This compounds the problem as it may take a long time to arrive and the helmets may be older than 5 years.
In addition, these helmets bought abroad will not have the Philippine Standard Import Commodity Clearance (PS ICC) sticker that many enforcers look for when stopping riders. After all, they were not bought here. Granted, many are trained to recognize certain brands (especially those that are ECE and SNELL compliant), but the lack of a sticker may only cause you more delays at a checkpoint.
6. It’s not cool to wear a helmet
Many young and first-timer motorcycle riders think wearing a helmet is not cool. They may think breaking the rules and being rebellious makes them look cool in their friends' eyes, but this only shows ignorance.
Unfortunately, this attitude, paired with reckless riding often ends in an accident. And if you don't have a helmet on, it could prove fatal.
No one is too cool to wear a helmet.
7. No one else is doing it
There are those who honestly don’t know that it is unlawful to ride a motorcycle on any road without wearing a proper, motorcycle-specific helmet.
The Motorcycle Helmet Act (Republic Act 10054) is a law and is applicable nationwide. If you're in a province where it is not strictly enforced, that doesn't make it legal. Ignorance of the law excuses no one.
If you're in a municipality where you're required to take it off, then follow, but travel at a slow speed. Once out of its borders, put it back on.
Section 7 of RA 10054 or the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 prescribes a penalty for not wearing a standard or motorcycle-specific helmet of PhP1,500.00 which could go as much as PhP10,000 for the 4th and succeeding offenses, including the confiscation of the driver’s license.
For other motorcycle-related violations that you might be unaware of, please read our story 10 traffic laws you may be violating.