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Grin and wear it

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Motorbikes in Hanoi, Vietnam

In Hanoi, motorbikes are by far the most popular means of transportation. There are millions of them on the streets of the city. And with the number of motorbikes steadily increasing in recent years, the numbers of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths also rose dramatically.

That’s why the Vietnamese Government made wearing motorcycle helmets mandatory at the beginning of this year. Since then, anyone caught without a helmet will have to pay a hefty fine.

Vietnamese motorbike drivers weren’t too enthusiastic about the new law – to put it mildly. They loved the feel of the wind in their hair when they rode their bikes. Helmets would crush their hairstiles. And most of all: there weren’t that many helmets to be had in Vietnam! The ones that were sold here were mostly made in China, and many Vietnamese doubted, whether these Chinese helmets would really protect them in case of a crash.Helmet store in Hanoi

Helmets that don’t make a difference

So what you see on the streets of Hanoi these days is that most people do wear helmets to avoid being stopped by the police. But the helmets they wear don’t offer much protection.

For one thing, 99 % of the Vietnamese motorcylce helmets don’t protect the chin or the face – they’re basically a plastic cap that people put on the tops of their heads.

And many drivers who wear these skimpy helmets don’t even close the chin strap that secures them to their heads. So in the event of an accident, the helmets would just go flying and leave their owners unprotected.

motorbikehelmet with textile exterior

Turning the resented helmets into fashion statements

The ingenious Vietnamese have tried to make the best of the new rule: they’ve turned their motorcycle helmets into fashion accessories.

You can see guys wearing helmets that are made to look like baseball caps. And women wear helmets with plaid cloth on the outside or ones with flowers and ribbons.

And one thing that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world is how the Vietnamese are turning motorbike helmets into stylish hats by attaching a colorful textile brim to it.

helmet becomes hat in HanoiVendors sell these brims in many different designs, so female drivers can just attach and wear the one that best matches that day’s outfit.

Isn’t there something we forgot?

But there’s one very thing that’s unfortunately still missing on the Vietnamese market for motorcycle helmets: helmets for kids.

Children are regularly taken along on motorbike rides. Either they’re expected to hold on to mommy or daddy, or they’re squeezed between their parents.

Sometimes you’ll see whole families on motorbikes: mom, dad and up to three children.

Family on Motorbike

And even though the grown-ups will now mostly wear protective helmets, almost all the kids are left unprotected in case of an accident.

Not a nice thing in a society that adores children as much as the Vietnamese do.

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Written by Thorsten

May 27, 2008 at 12:56 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Really like this little Vietnamese fashion excursion!! What helmet have you chosen? I think the German Bundeswehr should get some inspiration here!!!

    Barb

    May 30, 2008 at 12:51 pm

  2. Contribution of Over 1,700 Helmets for School Children in Hanoi

    DHL has further strengthened its partnership with the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF) with a sponsorship of over 1,700 helmets to school children of Kim Dong Primary School in Hanoi, Vietnam. This latest commitment to AIPF’s Helmets for Kids program, which aims to encourage road safety in Vietnam, brings DHL’s total support to almost 3,000 helmets. The first round of sponsorship began in September 2007 to the school children of Nguyen Hue Primary School, located in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai Province.
    This sponsorship is aligned to DHL’s community investment program and is part of its sustainability efforts across Asia Pacific to support underprivileged children, safeguard their well-being and promote their social development. The support for Helmets for Kids program in Vietnam is DHL’s direct intervention to help reduce mortality of children, ensuring their health and safety.

    matthias

    May 30, 2008 at 2:40 pm


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