Crossing Cambodia

Monday, April 09, 2007

Vrom Vietnam: helmet status

The shiny star, that's Vietnam ,seems to be leading Cambodia in more than just economic terms (but not in democrazy). A seminar in Saigon, ten days back has kicked off a number of press clippings on helmet safety. Here the Vietnam News:
Helmets could be mandatory under new law in HCM City

'... "All of the 997 people killed in HCM City motorbike accidents last year were not wearing helmets," said head of the city’s Road Traffic Police Department Phan Van Thinh.

... According to a representative of the Asian Injury Prevention Foundation, Mirjam Sidik, the number of casualties in motorbike accidents ranks third among health risks around the world, far above the 10th-placed HIV/AIDS pandemic'.
Mindboggling, is there a top ten? What about car accidents?
'... There are currently only 18 city roads on which helmets are required, but the new plan may be implemented by the end of the year, though city authorities say they are waiting for a "suitable time".

Phuong told the seminar that current regulations requiring helmets on a certain number of streets in the city had not been enforced properly due the large number of offenders and the lack of traffic enforcement personnel.

"There are too many offenders for traffic wardens to handle," said Thinh from the Road Traffic Police Department.

"The fines levied on violators, ranging from VND20,000-40,000 (US$1.25-2.5), are too light," Phuong said. "And the fact that we have lifted laws requiring violators’ vehicles to be detained for 10 days has not helped the problem."

He said the city would work to impose higher fines on those not wearing helmets on the current mandatory routes to VND80,000-100,000 ($5-6.25)'.
So poor laws result in poor law enforcement. Better a half cooked plan than none? Legislators looking for excuses, sounds familiar. What more can we learn?Indeed, many residents give questionable excuses for not wearing helmets, such as: the rules are not enforced, the helmets look ugly, they are uncomfortable or mess up their hair'.
'... Lawyer Nguyen Van Hau from the city’s Bar Association said that many helmets are weak and poorly designed and suggested that many residents don’t wear helmets because finding a place for it when not riding is a hassle.
Crossing Cambodia would think that after an accident their hair might be messed up.

Thahn Nien News reports this:
' ... The "Wear A Helmet - No Excuses" campaign, launched by Asia Injury Prevention Foundation and Vietnam's National Traffic Safety Committee, aims to increase people's awareness on the importance of wearing helmets.

Last year, 14,000 Vietnamese people died and 30,000 were injured from road crashes in Vietnam.

... According to the National Traffic Safety Committee, 76 percent of brain trauma cases are caused by traffic accidents, and up to 98 percent of the accident victims hospitalized were not wearing helmets.

... Vietnam now requires helmets to be worn on national highways, but not in cities or on country roads. A proposed nationwide helmet law in 2001 met with popular opposition'.
Despite immediate attention required, authorities prefer to sit back. Now why would an NGO need to set up such campaigns? Why isn't the same happening here in Cambodia?

Well, in other news, there were other problems in Saigon to be dealt with. Power shortages lead to load shedding, lead to traffic lights not working, lead to traffic jams which the police could not control
' Major Phan Van Xi, head of the traffic police squad No 4, said even with prior information about the cuts, regulating traffic would be difficult because of the skyrocketing vehicle numbers'.
Are Vietnamese vehicles skyrocketing? Now that would solve a problem: from two-dimensional to three dimensional.

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