I read an article yesterday in the Khmertimes Newspaper that stated the Cambodian Government was considering a concept that would ban young people from attending school if they were found to be not wearing a helmet when arriving at school on their motorbikes.
As much as I always applaud the Cambodian Government for trying to create new and innovative concepts that will help reduce traffic injuries and deaths in Cambodia, I have to say that this new concept seems to be a knee jerk reaction and hasn’t been thought out very well. In my opinion it is just another band-aide idea that once again baulks from the core of what needs to be done to encourage young people to wear helmets whilst riding motorbikes.
First and foremost, education needs to be provided in all primary schools, to educate young people as to why they need to wear a helmet; simply put, it is because it protects your head and reduces your chances of head injury in the event of a motorbike accident. It is quite obvious, when you see a person riding a motorbike and wearing a helmet, but has children or other people as pillions who are not wearing a helmet, that there is a serious lack of understanding as to why helmets are required.
Secondly, there is already legislated laws in Cambodia that prohibit riders and pillions from riding a motorbike without wearing a helmet. Cambodia’s traffic police need to raise their standards and start enforcing the law constantly and without discretion. On every street corner we see people riding past police without helmets, with police turning a blind eye to the breaches of law, which not only confuses motorbike riders as to what the law is, but it encourages people not to wear helmets or fear repercussion of penalty.
There is no magic potion needed here; stop the discretional behaviour by Police, enforce the laws equally and fairly, apply stricter penalties and culminate enforcement with solid educational programs starting at primary school level, and we will not only stop the culture of riding motor bikes without helmets, but more importantly make people understand why they need to wear a helmet.