|A policeman stops a motorcyclist in Tuyen Quang Province. Yesterday was the first day of a crackdown on substandard helmets. — VNA/VNS Photo The Duyet
HA NOI (VNS) — Yesterday was the first day for traffic police to start fining motorcyclists wearing sub-standard helmets as part of a National Traffic Safety Committee campaign. But both police and motorcyclists remain puzzled about identifying substandard helmets, local reports say.
Most helmets currently on the market fail to meet the national standards, according to an article in Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper. In a recent test, only 15.8 per cent of 800 helmets from across the country met safety requirements and barely 39 per cent of 200 helmets met the requirements for impact absorption capacity.
Under the new rule, wearers of sub-standard helmets must pay a fine between VND100,000 (about US$5) and VND200,000 ($10).
In addition, authorities will inspect manufacturing companies, retail shops and importers and deal strictly with those that fail to conform to national technical and safety requirements: namely, efficient padding to absorb shock and a stamp with the letters "CR" (conforms with regulations).
However, senior lieutenant colonel Dao Vinh Thang, head of the city's transport police department, said while a Government decree requiring motorcyclists to wear safe helmets was necessary, traffic police were having difficulty enforcing it.
"It's hard for traffic police to recognise sub-standard helmets with the naked eye," Thang said. "Moreover, traffic police have no reason to stop motorcyclists to check their helmets if they are traveling in compliance with traffic law."
Even when police discover sub-standard helmets, they still face a dilemma.
"If we need to seize the helmets to send them for further technical checks, do we let the motorcyclists continue traveling without helmets?" he asked.
Agreeing, senior lieutenant colonel Dinh Van Ninh, head of Ninh Binh Province's transport police department, said helmets should be checked by another authority, rather than traffic police.
Helmet buyers are also unhappy about the situation.
"If the helmet is substandard, the motorcyclist is the victim. Why don't the authorities carry out strict measures with helmet producers, rather than consumers?" said Nguyen Truong, a motorcyclist in Ha Noi.
Senior lieutenant colonel Dao Vinh Thang from Ha Noi traffic police agreed that the most effective measure would be strict punishments for producers of substandard helmets.
"That's a crucial solution. Both market watch forces and economic police must join the cause to get rid of producers of sub-standard helmets," he said.
However, Khuat Viet Hung, vice chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee, said it was difficult to find producers of sub-standard helmets, as the products were not labeled "motorcycle helmets." — VNS