Motorcycle helmet wearing becomes law in Viet Nam
On the 15 December 2007, motorcycle helmet wearing became mandatory for ALL users of motorized two-wheelers in Viet Nam. This followed the 15 September 2007 deadline for all government and company employees to set an example. Overnight the wearing rate went from around 1 in 12 to almost 100%. WHO has been collaborating with partners in the country - governmental, nongovernmental and academic - to advocate for this change and to monitor the helmet wearing rate before and after the passing of the law.
Results seem promising. According to the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, major hospitals reported that the number of patients admitted for traumatic brain injuries in the two days after the law’s enactment was much lower than on previous weekends. In Ho Chi Minh City alone, serious traffic injuries fell by almost 50 per cent compared with pre-helmet weekends.
This impressive change follows 9 years of lobbying by many partners on the ground in Viet Nam and has included the following:
- The development of a "tropical" helmet specially designed for the conditions in the country and head sizes;
- The development of helmet standards, including the world's first helmet standard for children;
- A helmet workshop using the WHO, GRSP, FIA-Foundation and World Bank Helmet Manual - A road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners;
- "Helmets for kids" - free helmets and education to school children; and
- Various public awareness campaigns.
This multi-faceted approach to road safety in the country has been supported by a vast spectrum of non-profit, profit, government, and nongovernmental organizations – especially Atlantic Philanthropies, WHO, FIA-Foundation, Global Road Safety Partnership/Global Road Safety Initiative, the UN Road Safety Collaboration; and more recently, the Royal Danish Embassy Hanoi,
the US Embassy Hanoi, AusAid, Asia Development Bank, the World
Bank, Intel Vietnam and Michelin SEA.
From experience we know that the compliance for helmet wearing in the days and months following the passing of a law can drop and so all partners will need to continue working together to ensure that the positive gains of the last week are not lost and that the population continue to wear standardized helmets correctly.
In addition to the work on helmet wearing, in 2008, WHO, through a grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies, will work with partners to address the issues of drinking and driving and emergency medical care for victims of road traffic crashes.