New WHO Guide Aims to Boost the Use of Life-saving Helmets for Motorcycle Riders

New WHO Guide Aims to Boost the Use of Life-saving Helmets for Motorcycle Riders

A spike in traffic fatalities is possible in low- and middle-income countries due to the rapid growth in motorcycle ownership and the low use of safe, high-quality helmets.

Today, the World Health Organization [WHO] released a new guide for authorities to promote the use of motorcycle helmets. The second edition of the Helmets Manual provides guidelines to assist leaders in establishing the laws, regulations, and actions required to increase the use of safe, high-quality helmets in order to save lives.

The most common cause of death for motorcycle riders is head trauma, and using a safe, high-quality helmet reduces the risk of death by more than six times as much as it does the risk of brain injury by as much as 74%. Even though the number of motorcycles is rising quickly, quality helmet usage is still low in many low- and middle-income countries.

‘Dr. Matts-Ake Belin, global lead for the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030 at WHO, stated that due to the astounding rate at which motorcycles are proliferating, particularly in low and middle-income countries, immediate action is required to prevent a sharp increase in fatalities and injuries in the upcoming years.

The lack of affordable, high-quality, and safe helmets, the absence of children’s helmets, lax law enforcement, and hot weather are among the barriers to the widespread use of helmets. Helmets that are not properly fastened also increase the risk of death and injury.

‘To increase the accessibility and use of safe, high-quality helmets, authorities must put in place the laws, frameworks, and other measures. The newest manual outlines what is required and is supported by evidence, according to Dr. Belin.

The guide should assist in establishing a comprehensive strategy to promote helmet use, including a global helmet law, helmet quality standards, enforcement, and education. It offers guidance on gathering and analyzing data, reviewing laws, policies, and regulations, developing a theory of change, and tracking and evaluating progress.

‘Actions to increase the use of helmets must be implemented as part of a larger transition to a safe systems approach to road safety and mobility if we are to reduce the overall number of fatalities from traffic accidents. According to Dr. Belin, the safe systems approach “recognizes that the road transportation system is a complex system with many interconnected elements that all affect each other.

Enshrined in the Global Plan for the 2nd Decade of Action for Road Safety, the safe systems approach is being adopted by increasing numbers of countries. It acknowledges that the human body can only withstand so much force from collisions, accepts that people will make mistakes, and works to lessen the harm caused by these errors. In nations like Norway and Sweden, the method has substantially decreased the number of fatalities and injuries.

The Helmets Manual was introduced at the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety Regional Meeting for Asia in Mumbai, India. A thorough set of measures that have been shown to save lives is being put into action with the assistance of the Initiative for Global Road Safety. Nearly 200 representatives from five Asian nations—Bangladesh, China, India, Malaysia, and Viet Nam—are gathering in Mumbai for two days in order to exchange best practices and discuss lessons learned from their attempts to reduce fatalities and injuries.

The manual is a part of a series that was jointly produced by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Bank, the FIA Foundation, the Global Road Safety Partnership, and WHO.


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