If you’ve ever visited Vietnam you will have marvelled at how much they can fit on their motorcycles and scooters and how the crowded traffic system seems to flow.
However, 25 Vietnamese a day are killed riding motorcycles which represents 70% of all accidents, so the government is now considering limiting the number of motorcycles.
Those figures are a little misleading because they don’t take into account the fact that motorcycles represent 85% of all traffic and there are 39 million motorcycles registered in the country. Vietnam’s transport system would simply grind to a halt if motorcycles were limited.
That’s why the World Bank has stepped in and urged the Vietnam Government not to limit ownership of motorcycles, but improve safety standards and increase public transport options.
The main safety issue is helmets. While 95% of riders wear helmets, the standard is very low. I’ve seen Vietnamese riders with nothing more than an ice-cream bucket on their heads.
Also, while the percentage of riders with helmets is high, only one in four children wears a helmet as a pillion and sometimes motorcycles are way overloaded with the whole family on board, plus a pig!
They should also look at other safety issues such as overloading and the widespread use of mobile phones while riding.
Clearly, Vietnam needs to address some serious issues about safety rather than simply restricting the number of motorcycles.
But then, their attitude seems reminiscent of governments in western countries which seem to find ways to like more difficult for riders rather than improving driver/rider education, introducing advanced road rules or improving infrastructure.