The use of sub-standard helmets by motorcycle riders is widespread in Vietnam. According to a World Health Organization study in 2011, only 18% of helmets met the official Vietnamese helmet standard criteria. These sub-standard helmets offer little protection for motorcycle riders in the event of a crash.
As part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies funded Road Safety in Ten Countries (RS10) programme, the Vietnam Red Cross together with Global Road Safety Partnership is leveraging their auxiliary status with the Vietnamese government to advocate for stronger regulations on helmet standards. Since June 2012, the national society has conducted several actions aimed at influencing decision-makers to approve a draft Circular on Motorcycle Helmet Standards, which will define stronger regulations on the manufacturing, import, sales and use of motorcycle helmet standards.
The latest action by the Vietnam Red Cross was to host a workshop for government officials on December 26, 2012 to advocate for the rapid approval of the Circular on Motorcycle Helmet Standards (pictured). More than 40 participants from the key ministries involved in the helmet standard issue (Ministry of Science and Technology, Transport, Public Security, and Trade and Industry) attended the workshop, as well as other stakeholders such as the World Health Organization and representatives from the largest surgical hospital in Vietnam – Viet Duc Hospital. National media were also invited to cover the event.
The Vietnam Red Cross, led by their vice-president, used the event to encourage the ministry representatives to reach consensus on the content of the draft Circular, and to approve this piece of legislation. An outcome of the workshop was the ministry participants agreed to have the circular approved by the end of March 2013. Significant media coverage was also generated on helmet standards and the proposed legislation.
Timed to coincide with the government workshop, the Vietnam Red Cross also conducted a campaign through national media to raise the profile of the issue. The campaign centrepiece was a documentary broadcast on national television highlighting the risks of wearing sub-standard helmets, and calling for action to regulate sub-standard helmets.