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Helmeting Up in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh

Photo by Tom Vanderbilt

On the further subject of developing world traffic safety, Greig Craft of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation writes to tell me of an extension to the motorcycle helmet law in Vietnam:


Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has signed today an amendment to Resolution 32, the mandatory helmet law passed in December 2007. All drivers and passengers on motorbikes from the age of six must wear a helmet properly under penalty of a fine from 20 May 2010. Adults carrying children without a helmet or without it properly buckled will be fined 100,000 – 200,000 VND – the equivalent of five to ten US dollars. Those driving in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi will suffer higher penalties than in the rest of the country.

The amendment includes several other road safety measures: increased fines for carrying more than one passenger over the age of fourteen; triple to quadruple the original fine for running red lights; double the original fine for driving the wrong way down a one-way street; and up to a 1.4 million VND, or approximately 75 US dollars, fine for drink driving.

Officials will monitor the increased penalty system in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi for 36 months in a pilot project, after which time officials may chose to extend the same fines to the rest of the country.

The extension of the penalties for non-helmet use in Resolution 32 to include children marks the achievement of years of advocacy from many road safety stakeholders in Vietnam. AIP Foundation will encourage helmet use for all ages, and supports the amendment as a milestone for the Vietnamese government in road safety.

Good policy, for sure, though as the photo above indicates, children below 6 are still an issue — yes, that’s a baby she’s carrying. And let’s hope children around age 6 are only passengers, and not drivers.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2010 at 9:31 am and is filed under Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Helmeting Up in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh”

  1. Jason Says:

    Are we sure it’s good policy? There’s ambiguity in the world of cycling about the merits of helmets. The effects of helmets are multiple and contradictory.

    1. They cushion blows to the head.
    but
    2. They increase the risk of blows to the head by increasing its size and mass.
    3. They may encourage compensatory risk taking, (e.g. riding faster)
    4. They alter the way cyclists are treated by other road users (cars pass closer to helmet wearers).

    I suspect average motorbike speeds in Hanoi don’t get much above cycling speeds at home. I’d be interested if anyone has any further data on helmets for motorbikes / cycling.

    Here’s an article on my blog on this topic:

    http://thomasthethinkengine.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/keeping-a-lid-on-it/

  2. CBrinkman Says:

    Interesting. When we were in Hanoi 3 years ago we were told that it was illegal to wear a helmet inside the old city center. The feeling was that the helmets restricted vision and hearing and made it more dangerous for motorbike drivers to be aware of all the other motorbike drivers and pedestrians. And yes, the speeds inside the city were never very high, it was chaos, but it all seemed to work.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

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