An estimated 500,000 head injuries and 15,000 fatalities have been averted due to increased helmet use in Vietnam, according to a new report published by the AIP Foundation and FIA Foundation.

The report examines the impact of Vietnam’s universal helmet law that went into effect on 15 December 2007. The law requires motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear helmets while travelling on all roads throughout the country.

The effects of the law were immediate, the report reveals. Adult helmet wearing rates in four major cities – Hanoi, Danang, Can Tho, and Ho Chi Minh City – surged to more than 90%, compared to previous figures of between 6% and 10% on city roads. In 2008, the country saw a 24% decrease in injuries and a 12% decrease in fatalities due to road crashes.

“Without law, enforcement agencies are powerless to prevent hundreds of thousands of entirely preventable deaths and serious injuries. Vast swathes of Asia, Africa and the Americas are still failing to act,” stated Saul Billingsley, Executive Director, FIA Foundation.

“Now, as part of its leadership in attempting to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal health target for road fatalities, the World Health Organization has persuaded governments to adopt a voluntary target that, by 2030, will aim to increase the proportion of motorcycle riders correctly using standard helmets to close to 100%.

“And in looking for strategies, ideas and experience in planning how to achieve this target, countries should start by looking at Vietnam.”

This report details the approach used in Vietnam, including a clear objective allied to a plan of action, supported by multi-sectoral cooperation; international donor and expert support; active engagement of civil society; mobilisation of communities; and political courage and commitment.