‘Millions’ of children on roads unprotected: Shock study results spur bike helmet push

September 15, 2014


Speaking at “Getting children to wear helmets, the 7% project”, held at TK Park at CentralWorld Sunday, Ratanawadee Hemniti Winther, country director for Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, said the project will focus on four approaches: education, enforcement, media and innovation.

Awareness of helmet benefits and proper use will be raised through training and educational activities among students, teachers and parents, she said. The director also said school executives should ensure helmet use and police have been urged to enforce the law efficiently.

The move came after a survey between 2010 and 2013 by the Thai Roads Foundation (TRF) revealed only 7% of child passengers wore helmets.

The survey found seven children died in road accidents every day — more than 2,600 a year. About 200 were either injured or disabled every day — 72,680 each year. The statistics painted Thailand as having the world’s second deadliest roads.*

The panel pointed out different reasons for not wearing helmets, including a lack of awareness on road safety, an easy-going habit among Thais, carelessness, short driving distances, laziness and lax law enforcement.

“Parental attitude is considered one of the key challenges to improving road safety habits,” Ms Ratanawadee said.

“Working closely with teachers, parents and students, motorcycle helmets will be featured as a permanent part of the school uniform.”

The 3.5-year project was initiated at about 30 primary schools in Bangkok and nearby provinces. It would be expanded to more schools to cover as many destinations as possible in a child’s daily commute. The panel aims to boost the percentage of children wearing helmets to more than 60% by 2017.

Speaking on the same topic at a recent seminar in Bangkok, Piyapong Jiwattanakulpaisarn, a TRF committee member, identified parental attitudes and pricing as the main factors affecting how many children wear helmets.  But Mr Piyapong was also worried about adult motorcyclists as the same survey also found only 43% of about 1.5 million motorcycle users nationwide wear helmets.

Of the respondents, about half of the adults wore helmets while only 19% of teenagers use the protection, according to the survey. The survey also found 72% of motorcycle users in cities wore helmets while only 29% in rural areas used them.

Om, a motorcycle taxi driver, said he took about 30 passengers a day, but only three to four used his spare helmet.

“Most don’t want their hair ruined,” he said, adding that passengers wary of being fined put their hair issues aside when approaching a police checkpoint. All put their helmets on without fail, he said.

Source: Bangkok Post

*According to the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013, Thailand ranks third worldwide for road traffic crash fatalities.

World Health Organization. Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013: Supporting a Decade of Action. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2013. http://www.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/78256/1/9789241564564_eng.pdf.

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