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Helmets

Enforcement of helmet wearing for both rider and pillion passengers can increase the likelihood of surviving a crash by up to 40% depending on the speed of the motorcycle, and quality of the helmet. Helmet wearing is compulsory in many countries, but in many low and middle income countries this is not enforced. Regulations concerning the size and speed of motorised two wheelers should also be considered, along with the use of graduated licences based upon age and experience.

Increasing helmet use in a country is an important way of improving road safety. A good practice helmet manual has been developed and published as part of the work of the UN Road Safety Collaboration by WHO, the World Bank, FIA Foundation and Global Road Safety Partnership, backing up the World Report on road traffic injury prevention.

The good practice helmet manual is useful for countries that want to improve the rate of helmet use among users of two-wheelers, locally or at national level. It provides the necessary background evidence that will be useful for anyone starting a helmet programme, and gives practical technical advice on how to assess the situation, and how to design, implement and evaluate a programme to achieve a higher helmet wearing rate.

The manual offers guidance on the following:

  • Evidence on motorcycle crashes and why helmets minimize head injuries
  • How to undertake a problem assessment
  • How to set up a working group, develop an action plan including measures like helmet standards, legislation, enforcement and compliance, and how to use public education to change behaviour
  • How to monitor and evaluate a helmet programme

The key principles and practical steps that this manual presents can easily be adapted and made relevant to different contexts around the world and the problems and needs of individual countries.

Enforcement of helmet use and protective clothing for both riders and passengers will reduce the level of injury. Proper training in ways to avoid collision can also help reduce the chance of loss of control. Planning for motorbikes by maintaining roads, lowering the speed, and providing separation from other traffic also need to be addressed - in particular in urban areas where most motorcycle crashes happen. 

Finally, good pre-hospital care and emergency systems are important in case of a road crash to shorten the crucial time between the occurrence of the crash, the arrival of rescue teams, and arrival to a health clinic, thereby reducing the risk of serious or fatal injuries.

Case studies regarding helmets can be found here and the under documents tab below.