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Celebrating further strengthening of road safety legislation Mandatory helmet wearing for children

Resource type: News

United Nations Vietnam |

Hanoi, 20 May 2010 – The United Nations commends the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam for their continued attention to strengthening road safety.

Taking effect today, Government Decree 34 addresses many important road safety issues including the requirement that children from six years of age wear helmets whenever they travel on a motorcycle.

With an estimated 4,000 children tragically killed and many thousands more serious injured each year, the vast majority of them related to travel on motorcycles, road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death and disability of Vietnamese children.

This change in legislation comes about despite the misguided belief of many parents that wearing a helmet can increase the risk of injuries to the child’s neck.

“Parents must understand that there is no evidence to support rumors that helmet wearing is dangerous for children’s necks” said Dr Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative in Viet Nam “On the contrary, wearing a high-quality, properly strapped helmet is in fact the single most effective way of reducing head injuries and fatalities from motorcycle and bicycle crashes,” Dr. Olivé adds.

National hospital statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that since the national helmet law took effect in 2007, more than 6,800 children under the age of 15 have been hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries resulting from road traffic crashes. 

“Much of this needless suffering could have been avoided had parents insisted that their children correctly wear a quality helmet whenever they travelled on a motorcycle” said Jesper Morch, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative to Viet Nam.

Parents and adults must be role models to all children and always wear helmets themselves.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to protect children. Helmets for children are widely available and have been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury.” added Mr Morch.  “Under this new legislation, if a child is not correctly wearing a helmet then the adult who is carrying them will be fined 100,000-200,000 VND.”

Viet Nam is one of only three countries in the world where helmet standards have been developed specially with the requirements of children in mind. This should provide parents with confidence that it is both suitable and appropriate for children to wear a helmet each and every time they travel on a motorcycle.

 “We congratulate the Government on closing this last major loophole in the already successful national helmet legislation” “We are confident that this new legislation, when thoroughly and stringently enforced will boost the number of Vietnamese children wearing helmets in turn making their daily experiences on Vietnam’s roads safer”.  Dr Olivé added.

 To draw further attention to this important milestone, WHO, in collaboration with road safety and international stakeholders will shortly run a media campaign to raise awareness among adults and parents that they are now legally responsible ensure children wear a helmet.

“The challenge now is to heed the evidence and gradually increase the coverage of this important new legislation.  In the not to distant future, we hope that children of all ages will be protected by a helmet when they travel on a motorcycle and if for whatever reason they cant, then we continue to recommend that parents find an alternative means of transport for their children.” said Dr Olivé.

“Don’t let your child become another tragic road statistic. If your child is not wearing a helmet, the life-long consequences to you and your family could be immeasurable” concluded Mr Morch.

WHO and UNICEF looks forward to continuing our cooperation and collaboration with the Government and other partners in this important area, to achieve our common goal of saving lives on Viet Nam’s roads. 

UNICEF, WHO, the VN Ministry of Health, among others, are Atlantic grantees for injury prevention work in Viet Nam.

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UNICEF, VN Ministry of Health, WHO