The formulation and implementation of a national helmet law: a case study from Viet Nam
Jonathon W Passmore, Lan Huong Nguyen, Nam Phuong Nguyen & Jean-Marc Olivé
Road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death and disability in Viet Nam. In 2008, official data reported 11 243 deaths and 7771 serious injuries on the roads, of which an estimated 60% of fatalities occur in motorcycle riders and passengers. In recognition of this problem, Viet Nam has had partial motorcycle helmet legislation since 1995. However, for a variety of reasons, implementation and enforcement have been limited.
On 15 December 2007, Viet Nam's first comprehensive mandatory helmet law came into effect, covering all riders and passengers on all roads nationwide. Penalties increased ten-fold and cohorts of police were mobilized for enforcement.
The Viet Nam national helmet legislation was developed and implemented by the National Traffic Safety Committee.
Despite past barriers to enforcement, increased policing in 2008 led to 680 000 infringements being issued for non-helmet wearing. While changes in helmet wearing were not nationally observed, significant increases were documented in selected provinces in the first six months of the law’s introduction. In Da Nang, helmet wearing increased from 27 to 99%. In the first three months after the law took effect, surveillance data from 20 urban and rural hospitals, found the risk of road traffic head injuries and deaths decreased by 16% and 18% respectively.
Political leadership, intensive advanced public education and stringent enforcement have contributed to the successful implementation of the new law. Through continual monitoring of the legislation, loopholes detrimental to the effectiveness of the law have been identified and addressed.