In 2006, the World Health Organization, World Bank, FIA Foundation, and Global Road Safety Partnership released the first edition of the Helmet Road Safety Manual. In the past 17 years, new data, developments, and research have influenced both helmet safety standards and manufacturing practices. To address the needs of today’s riders, WHO published the Helmet Road Safety Manual Second Edition on April 5, 2023.

“As motorcycles proliferate at an astonishing rate, especially in low and middle-income countries, urgent action is needed to stave off a rapid rise in deaths and injuries in the coming years,” admitted the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021-2030) Global Head Dr. Matts-Ake Belin.

While WHO releases its latest guidelines under this claim, it doesn’t call out specific nations in its released statement. On the other hand, the Second Edition notes that 42 percent of West Kenya’s powered two-wheeler (PTW) riders admitted sustaining head injuries. In Vietnam, 70 percent of all motorcycle-related hospitalizations include head injuries. Taiwan and China report similar figures, with motorcycle head injuries accounting for 71 percent of all vehicle-based head injuries. In response to these numbers, WHO claims that “helmets reduce the risk of death by over six times and brain injury by up to 74 percent.”

“To reduce all deaths from road crashes, actions that aim to increase the use of helmets must be applied as part of a wider shift to a safe systems approach to road safety and mobility,” added Dr. Belin. “The safe systems approach recognizes that road transport is a complex system with many interconnecting elements that all affect each other.”

The global organization believes the paucity of quality yet affordable helmets (including helmets for children), lacking law enforcement, and hot climates only contribute to the issue. Even when riders use helmets, improperly fastened lids undermine the efforts of regulators and local authorities.

“Authorities must put the laws, frameworks, and actions in place to boost the availability and uptake of safe, quality helmets,” concluded Dr. Belin. “Rooted in evidence, the latest manual sets out what is needed.”

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