AIPF (Asia Injury Prevention Foundation) headed by Greig Craft of the USA have recently launched their public awareness campaign on wearing helmets in the city. I was lucky to meet with Greig recently and hopefully I will be helping AIPF in a small role in the future. The ads are on billboards around the city and look like this : visually shocking with clear messages....
The message on the ads reads 'Every year over 12,000 people die on our roads and 30,000 are seriously injured. That means thousands of families are left picking up the pieces. Families tourtured by the loss of a loved one. Crippled by reduced income or the sudden need to care for a relative with permanent brain damage. The sad truth is that most of these cases could have been prevented by simply wearing a helmet. When you think about it, there are no excuses.'
The ads are city wide and also appear on buses. Keep a eye out for them:
See http://www.wear-a-helmet.com/ for more information.
The statistics are truly awful, as Greig mentioned in a 1993 BBC report, 500 children a month are lost in Vietnam due to traffic accidents. The excuses mentioned in the ads above are all too common - 'It ruins my hair', 'They don't look cool' and 'It makes me look stupid'.....of course, ridiculous when considering the effects of a serious traffic accident for everyone involved and the burden on the nation's health service. Here's Greig speaking on the issue:
Another thing that should be stressed is this : 'striking the pavement at ANY speed without a helmet can cause brain damage'. We've all heard of people falling and being knocked unconscious or even dying just from a standing position....sitting on a bike is no different. That stuff the road is made of, that corner of the curb, that stuff is HARD....just try giving yourself a little tappy-tappy on the cranium. Kneel down and butt the curb gently, see if it hurts.
Worse than the Vietnamese are the foreigners themselves who come here and see no need to wear a helmet. We are supposedly from developed countries. These kind of problems are supposed to be limited to developing countries where a 'lack of education' and other commonly banded around phraseology are blamed, but those folks who come over and shun helmets are just proving that they need to be regulated and enforced just like the 'uneducated masses' of Vietnam. People involved in the fight to cut road deaths in the developing world do not use words like 'epidemic' and 'war' lightly, the least representatives of so called developed countries could do is show that they are not willing to become a victim either. Surely as westerners, we have to set an example as a role model for kids - so let them see you are wearing a helmet, and maybe they will be more inclined to put one on.
One of the most popular helmet brands is Protec, made and produced in a Hanoi factory by AIPF. For $25 you can get yourself a nice 'tropical' helmet with leather trim. Read more about the Protec project here.
The government has bought forward the date for the nationwide implementation of helmets. From September the 15th it is required on all highways by law. From December 15th, all streets nationwide.
Resolution 32 was signed
Enforcement will also be stepped up on other violations such as drink driving, speeding and running red lights. Penalties will increase substantially. For example, 30 day confiscation of motorbikes will be enacted if drivers commit one of following violations: overloading, using opposite lane or restricted way, swerving, cutting-in, red light running, and disobeying traffic police commands. 90 day confiscation of motorbikes will be imposed in cases of under-aged drivers or unlicensed drivers. Given Vietnamese reliance on the motorbike, these are harsh and severe penalties that should ensure compliance of law - and for foreigners as well.
(source, AIPF newsletter, September 2007).