Since 2007, Vietnam has made impressive gains in increasing helmet wearing rates among motorcyclists – a critical achievement considering that 95% of the registered vehicle fleet is composed of motorcycles. This success in behaviour change is largely due to strong legislation and the systematic enforcement of helmet wearing, supported by social marketing campaigns and other road safety educational efforts.
However, while the majority of motorcycle riders are now wearing helmets, the quality of these helmets is generally poor and they do not meet the national standard for protective helmets for motorcycle and moped users.
World Health Organization surveys undertaken in operational sites of the Bloomberg Philanthropies supported Road Safety in 10 Countries project show that:
- in Ninh Binh province, whilst 80% of motorcycle riders wear helmets, only 13% of helmets meet the national standard;
- and in Ha Nam province, 78% of riders wear helmets, with only 48% meeting the national standard.
Substandard helmets do little to protect the head in case of an impact in a crash. Yet, there is little the authorities can do since regulations on helmet standards are not yet included in the current helmet legislation.
The Vietnam Red Cross, together with GRSP, is committed to advocating for the requirement of a good standard of helmet quality to be enforced. The project seeks to raise the profile of the issue, and, through Vietnam Red Cross’ auxiliary role to government, support the legislative process aimed at stronger regulations around helmet standards. The Vietnam Red Cross brings a unique perspective to the issue, witnessing first-hand the impact of road crashes and head trauma through their nationwide network of first aid posts.
The project was launched on August 31, 2012 through an internal workshop presided over by the Vietnam Red Cross Vice-President Nguyen Huu Hong. He stated: “The Internal Advocacy Workshop is one of the first activities to introduce the project and the role of the Vietnam Red Cross in the road safety field, and to mobilize the commitment and support of the key road safety players towards the achievement of the project objectives. The planned advocacy activities to influence the policy influencers and policy makers are essential to contribute to the sustainable reduction of head injuries due to road crashes in the future”.
The Vietnam Red Cross plans to spread the helmet standard advocacy messages further through a journalist workshop on October 10th, to be followed by government seminars, face-to-face meetings with decision-makers and a media campaign. They will also seek to work closely with road safety authorities such as the Ministry of Transport and National Traffic Safety Committee, the World Health Organization and other stakeholders.