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        Bong Nebrija reminds us why ‘habal-habal’ is so dangerous

        Your life is worth much more than a cheaper fare
        by Matthew Galang Jul 6, 2021
        PHOTO: Bong Nebrija

        In the age of ride-hailing apps, it’s a bit surprising that habal-habal, or illegal motorcycle taxis, is still a big thing. Sure, they may charge lower rates than legitimate services, but is the cheaper fare really worth it?

        Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic chief Edison ‘Bong’ Nebrija has once again proven that such services are too sketchy to entrust with one’s life.

        The social media-savvy official recently posted about one of his experiences during the MMDA’s Anti Habal-Habal operations. Nebrija and his team spotted one such habal-habal rider along EDSA, who was in such a hurry to escape the MMDA’s gaze that he rode off without retrieving his passenger’s helmet.

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        He wrote: “Sa sobrang takot nya di pa nakakababa ng maayos yung pasahero humarurot na buti di natumba o nakaladkad yung babae. Sa pagmamadali nakalimutan ng kunin yung helmet ng pasahero. So binigay sa amin nung babae, sabi namin sa kanya, ‘Kung sino sino na po gumamit nyan at di po dinidisinfect yan.’”

        In addition to being a potential health hazard, the helmet also appeared to be of substandard quality. Nebrija took it upon himself to test its integrity by stomping on it, and true enough, the helmet fell apart with minimal effort.

        Let this be a cautionary tale to both motorcycle taxi passengers and riders. If the passenger had gotten into a crash, the dubious helmet she was wearing would have done next to nothing to protect her from injury.

        If you’re looking to buy a motorcycle helmet, safety should be your top priority. One of the easiest things to look for in a safe helmet is the safety certification typically found on the back. The three mainstream safety ratings you should keep an eye out for are Snell, ECE, and DOT. If a helmet carries at least one of these ratings, you can rest easy knowing that your head will be protected by a lid that has passed crash testing.

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        Be careful, though, as some shady sellers stamp bogus safety ratings on the back of their products. Such helmets can be distinguished by a simple inspection, which will reveal things like a worryingly thin plastic shell you can easily bend with your hands, regular styrofoam instead of legitimate impact-absorbing EPS foam, and shoddy build quality.

        The next time you take a motorcycle service, give the helmet a quick look over. If you don’t feel like you can trust it with your life (or if it obviously hasn’t been washed in days), it’s best to book another ride.

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        PHOTO: Bong Nebrija

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