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Helmet safety gets rolling

Helmet safety gets rolling

111208_05
Members of the Cambodia Biker Club pledge their support for the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation’s motorcycle passenger helmet campaign yesterday in Phnom Penh.

The Asia Injury Prevention Foundation launched a campaign yesterday with the aim of reducing deaths by putting a helmet on all motorcycle passengers.

The media campaign is aimed at curbing an “epidemic” that kills more people than malaria or tuberculosis, and features the tagline “Always care. Always wear a helmet”.

As a partnership with the National Road Safety Committee and the Ministry of Interior, the campaign consists of short radio and television commercials that communicate the importance of putting a helmet on loved ones when they ride motorcycles.

“Cambodian parents are the most loving parents that I’ve found anywhere in the world, but many don’t understand the dangers associated with riding a motorcycle and not putting helmets on their heads or their kids’ heads. This is a mindset we have to change together,” AIPF president Greig Craft said.

The three-month campaign, which will appear on billboards and in online advertisements and interactive demonstrations, is the result of months of research by AIPF, which shows that only 8 per cent of the country’s motorcycle passengers wear helmets.

AIPF’s behavioural surveys also show that, although Cambodians are aware that helmets are important safety mechanisms, most do not consider them necessary on short trips or when travelling at low speeds.

There is a perception that young children do not need helmets, the research shows.

These dangerous patterns were exhibited in the grim numbers reported by Kim Yideth, Deputy Secretary General, General Commissariat of National Police.

In the first nine months of 2011, deaths jumped by 12 per cent to 1,448, compared to the same period last year, he said, despite a 7 per cent decrease in total traffic accidents.

Roughly 70 per cent of those killed were not wearing helmets, he said.

The Ministry of Interior is scheduled to discuss an amendment to the Kingdom’s traffic law that would make it mandatory for all motorcycle passengers to wear helmets, Kim Yideth said, pledging his force’s support.

Such a law exists in Vietnam and Thailand, where most passengers wear helmets.

That progress took time, however, and was the result of significant efforts by the government and key stakeholders, Mirjam Sidik, AIPF executive director, said.

“Ultimately, it’s about changing a mindset, so that people are wearing helmets not because the police will fine you, but because you know you have to do it to be safe, and that can take a long time, maybe five to 10 years.”

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