HA NOI – Vo Nu Tra Mi, 11, in northern Phu Tho Province, was not wearing a helmet when she got into a motorbike accident with her mother on Monday.
The young girl suffered a serious head injury and had to undergo surgery.
Two days after the accident, she still has a swollen eye, and all her hair was shaved away for the surgery. She cannot sleep at night because of the pain.
Her mother, Nguyen Thi Kim Thu, underwent surgery for her broken legs and now she is in recovery. Thu was wearing her helmet. She now regrets that she did not make her daughter wear one as well.
“I should have made her wear a helmet. She would not have been hurt so badly with a helmet,” said Thu.
One doctor at Viet Duc Hospital, Dong Van He, said that Mi was lucky as her situation was not more serious. He advised parents to always make their children wear helmets.
“It’s better to prevent injury than to cure it,” he said.
Nearly 3,300 children suffered brain injuries in traffic accidents in 2008, according to a report by the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The statistic was announced at the Expert Consultation Workshop on Helmet Wearing for Children in Viet Nam, held yesterday in Ha Noi by the Ministry of Transport (MOT).
The workshop aimed at asking the opinions of domestic and international experts on the age at which children should be wearing helmets.
Winners of traffic safety contest chosen
HCM CITY – The Asia Injury Prevention Foundation yesterday presented awards to winners of a diary-writing and photography contest on road safety it held in HCM City last month.
Open to children aged under 14, the diary entries competition in the Traffic Safety Diary 2009 Contest required contestants to write what they see on the roads daily.
It was won by Dien Bien, Dong Ba and Hoang Van Thu primary schools.
The traffic safety photo competition was won by Dong Ba, Dien Bien and Do Luong primary schools.
The prizes were given away at a function held at the HCM City Children’s House.
The contest was organised in co-operation with the city Department of Education and Training and Traffic Safety Committee, and sponsored by Safe Kids Worldwide and drug company Johnson & Johnson.
Students from six primary schools had taken part. – VNS
All existing laws and regulations required anyone sitting on a motorbike to wear a helmet; however, there was no law for adults who carried children that were not wearing helmets, according to MOT’s Acting Director of the Department of Traffic Safety, Nguyen Van Thuan.
According to Tran Thi Ngoc Lan, deputy director of MOH’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Environment, of the nearly 50,000 incidents of brain injury caused by traffic accidents in 2008, the rate of children under 14 who had suffered was 13.4 per cent.
Statistics provided by Viet Duc Hospital in Ha Noi alone said that 560 children under 14 had suffered brain injuries in traffic accidents in the past three years.
Other research carried out by Dong Van He, doctor and head of the Science Research Faculty at Viet Duc Hospital in Ha Noi, showed that about 8.1 per cent of those children had died from their injuries.
Parental awareness on helmets for children had also played an important role in reducing the number of brain injuries, a majority of participants agreed at the workshop.
However, a number of parents remained reluctant to make their children wear helmets.
Nguyen Thi Kim Thu said that she never thought such an accident would happen, so she did not care much about her daughter’s helmet.
Meanwhile, the mother of a three-year-old son, Bach Ngoc Dung, from Ha Noi, said she was worried about making young children wear helmets.
“It will affect their necks,” she said.
However, Jonathan Passmore, a technical staffer on child injury prevention at the World Health Organisation, said there was no scientific evidence that wearing a qualified helmet could negatively affect a child’s neck bone development.
MOT has asked relevant ministries for opinions on what age children should be wearing helmets. This was included in the draft of the “Decree on fines regulation for administrative violations in road traffic”.
According to Nguyen Van Thuan, there were currently two trends of opinions: one suggested that everyone on motorbikes should be wearing helmets, while the other said that children aged six and older should have to wear helmets.
MOT also proposed that motorcyclists carrying children aged six to 16 without helmets be fined VND100,000 to VND200,000 (US$6-$12).
It proposed that fines be included in Decree 146/2007/ND-CP promulgated on September 14, 2007, and that they be applied beginning in July.
The Government will decide the fate of the proposal.
The proposed new regulation was intended to reinforce parental responsibility to follow traffic safety laws, said Nguyen Van Thuan.
Regarding the quality of helmets for children, Science and Technology Ministry standards written in 2004 set the weight of helmets for children at no more than 0.4 kilos. The Transport Ministry’s draft proposal would have those carrying more than a single pillion passenger fined from VND100,000 to VND200,000.
Motorcyclists caught without compulsory vehicle insurance would be fined between VND80,000-VND120,000 ($4-$7).
Illegal racers will have their motorbikes confiscated, forfeit their licences and be fined VND20 to 30 million ($1,200 – $1,700).
The draft proposal has been posted on the ministry’s website, www.mt.gov.vn. Opinions and responses can be made until June 10.
Viet Nam put its helmet regulation into action in December 2007. The regulation requires everyone sitting on a motorbike to wear a helmet.