All calabash-wearers will be prosecuted

On January 12, 2009, in road traffic injuries, by Karen Grepin

Earlier today, I posted a link to a picture of a man wearing a bucket on his head instead of a bike helmet in Nigeria. I posted it, because I thought it was cute, and a scene that I found to be very reminiscent of many of my trips to Africa. In Burkina, it was common for many motorcyclists to wear the blue eye masks from Air France around their noses and mouths to shield them from the dust.

I just found another link to a similar story. I gather, this was not a one off innovation, it appears as though there has been a new law passed in Nigeria requiring cyclists to wear bike helmets. Many cyclists have resorted to wearing all sorts of things on their head to get around these new laws: fruit shells, rubber tires, etc. Cyclists are complaining that the helmets are simply too expensive or other reasons for not wearing them.

Road traffic fatalities are a huge public health problem in a country like Nigeria. A BBC report of the same law reports more than 4,000 deaths a year from road traffic injuries and more than 20,000 injuries. This story highlights some of the challenges to making significant progress against this health condition. Policy responses that have worked elsewhere may be more difficult to implement in developing countries.

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