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How wearing a turban ‘saved my life’: Sikh cyclist, 44, whose head smacked the road after he fell off his bike and slid under an oncoming car reveals head covering ‘absorbed the impact’


A Sikh cyclist has said his turban ‘saved his life’ by absorbing the impact after he fell off his bike and slid under an oncoming car.

Jagdeep Singh, 44, had been cycling with a friend along a country road when they turned down a steep hill towards a blind corner.

Mr Singh, who has been cycling for 35 years, slammed on his brakes as a 4×4 car rounded the corner at speed and he slid down the hill, coming off his bike.

He said his turban – and traditional Sikh head covering – ‘absorbed the impact’ of his head hitting the ground and ‘saved’ his life.

His comments come as scientists at Imperial College London revealed that that the style and thickness of turbans can offer various protection again head injury.

Jagdeep Singh, 44, had been cycling with a friend along a country road when they turned down a steep hill towards a blind corner

Jagdeep Singh, 44, had been cycling with a friend along a country road when they turned down a steep hill towards a blind corner

Mr Singh, who has been cycling for 35 years, slammed on his brakes as a 4x4 car rounded the corner at speed and he slid down the hill, coming off his bike

Mr Singh, who has been cycling for 35 years, slammed on his brakes as a 4×4 car rounded the corner at speed and he slid down the hill, coming off his bike

He said his turban - and traditional Sikh head covering - 'absorbed the impact' of his head hitting the ground and 'saved' his life

He said his turban – and traditional Sikh head covering – ‘absorbed the impact’ of his head hitting the ground and ‘saved’ his life

The father of two said: ‘I sharply applied my brakes which caused my rear wheel to slide underneath me, and I skidded further down the hill.

‘I collided with the on-coming car and my right leg broke the impact of the fall by smashing against the car bumper.

‘The back of my head hit and scraped along the ground for a good three to four metres before I collided with the car.

‘I am sure that if I had not been wearing my turban then I would have been ended up with a serious head injury.’

Mr Singh shattered his shin bone and ankle from where he fell feet first into the car, in High Wycombe, Bucks, leaving him with arthritis – but an uninjured head.

He said: ‘My friend, Manjit, who was cycling with me is a doctor and I was lucky he was there – my body was going into shock.

‘He called the emergency services and the air ambulance doctor came and administered morphine.’

Mr Singh shattered his shin bone and ankle from where he fell feet first into the car, in High Wycombe, Bucks, leaving him with arthritis - but an uninjured head

Mr Singh shattered his shin bone and ankle from where he fell feet first into the car, in High Wycombe, Bucks, leaving him with arthritis – but an uninjured head

Mr Singh's friend told him: 'You shouldn't even be alive by the way you went under that car - I was getting ready to tell your mum you weren't going to wake up'

Mr Singh’s friend told him: ‘You shouldn’t even be alive by the way you went under that car – I was getting ready to tell your mum you weren’t going to wake up’

The accident come as scientists at Imperial College London revealed that that the style and thickness of turbans can offer various protection again head injury

The accident come as scientists at Imperial College London revealed that that the style and thickness of turbans can offer various protection again head injury

For impacts to the front of the head, the Dastaar turban style performed the best, while the Dumalla turban style fared best for impacts to the side of the head

For impacts to the front of the head, the Dastaar turban style performed the best, while the Dumalla turban style fared best for impacts to the side of the head

His friend told him: ‘You shouldn’t even be alive by the way you went under that car – I was getting ready to tell your mum you weren’t going to wake up.’

Scientists say turbans ‘can protect against head injuries almost as well as a bike helmet’

Experts at Imperial College London say the turban already provides good protection from impacts, and believe their findings may help engineers to develop lightweight protective fabric hats.

Sikhs who wear turbans are exempt from wearing bike and motorcycle helmets in the UK.

Using crash test dummy heads, the researchers tested five different turbans, using two wrapping styles and two different fabrics, and compared them with conventional cycle helmets and bare heads.

The study found that the risk of skull fractures and brain injuries was still higher with turbans than conventional bicycle helmets.

However, the danger might be reduced by covering a larger area of the head, placing energy-absorbing materials between the layers of the fabric and reducing friction in the material. 

For impacts to the front of the head, the Dastaar turban style performed the best, while the Dumalla turban style fared best for impacts to the side of the head. 

Mr Singh added: ‘It was the closest I’ve come to a near death experience.’

Mr Singh, who works as a Actuary in insurance, was taken to Wexham Park in Slough to have a CT scan after the accident which happened on December 21, 2019.

He said: ‘It was only afterwards I saw my turban was muddy at the back but intact.

‘Afterwards when I pieced it all together, I realised it would have been much worse if I hadn’t been wearing it.’

A new study from Imperial College London has revealed that the style and thickness of turbans affect the risk of serious head injury in Sikh cyclists.

Researchers used crash test dummy heads to experimented with five different turbans, distinguished by two wrapping styles and two different fabrics.

Comparing their findings with cycle helmets and bare heads, they found the style and thickness of turbans does affect the risk of serious head injury.

While Mr Singh was not part of the study, he said it was ‘encouraging’ to see it done following his own crash.

He explained: ‘Sikhs are now exempt from wearing helmets on motorcycles, building sites as well as riding horses.

‘When Sikhs were fighting to get this right in the 1970s, they spoke of how the turbans protected the head in the wars.

‘The turban I wear is a UK style of turban – but I want to learn how to do the traditional style that allows for even more protection as it will allow me to continue to follow my faith and protect myself.

‘It was a horrific accident and I’ve surprised myself that I’m still walking around and able to do the things I can do.’

Lead author Dr Mazdak Ghajari, from Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering, said: ‘From our previous work, we have a good understanding of which types of impacts are common in cyclists and how we should assess the efficacy of head protection equipment in the lab.

‘This project was a great opportunity for us to apply our expertise to empower Sikhs to protect themselves from head injury.’

Co-author Dr Gurpreet Singh, from Imperial’s Department of Materials and the Sikh Scientists Network, said: ‘Sikhs have earned the right to wear the sacred turban with pride for centuries now.

‘However, being just 0.5% of the world population, very little has been done to scientifically empower Sikhs to continue practicing their faith with advanced, protective materials that are in-line with their religious requirements.

‘Our findings show that simple Sikh turbans have the potential to mitigate head impacts.’



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