HA NOI — Lack of strong safety standards is blamed for a proliferation of substandard motorbike helmets throughout Viet Nam, a nation of motorbike drivers.
Farmers in central Quang Binh exchange old and poor quality helmets for standard ones. Fake or substandard helmets cause 15.9 per cent of head trauma injuries. — VNA/VNS Photo Trinh Duy Hung
In Ha Noi, HCM City and Hue flimsy helmets are sold for about VND20,000-40,000 (US$1-2), a quarter of the price for a genuine helmet.
Nguyen Hong Anh, 23, from Ha Noi's Tay Ho District, said she paid VND45,000 for her new helmet that was cheaper, prettier and lighter than the genuine article.
"Many motorbike drivers use fake helmets like me and no police stop us for wearing them," she said. "My helmet even has a fake CR stamp."
The head of the Product Quality Management Department, Tran Quoc Tuan, said it was difficult to punish those who produced or sold substandard helmets.
He said that sellers argued that there wasn't any evidence to show whether they were for motorbike drivers, pedestrians or bicycle riders.
He said that many people wore the helmets to avoid punishment by the police. Deputy director of the HCM City-based Quality Assurance and Testing Centre, Hoang Lam, said there were still no documents regulating the quality of the separate parts that made up a complete helmet.
A maker of the plastic shells used in the helmets in HCM City's Tan Phu District said they cost as little as VND2,000 each. The cheap shells were made from recycled waste plastic.
Another producer of helmet shells, Vinh, from Binh Hung Hoa Ward, HCM City, said his establishment could produce 500 shells a day.
Vinh said his products imitated popular brands from Thailand and Singapore. He said the foam layer in a fake helmet was about 10mm, much thinner than that of a standard one - and provided almost no protection.
The Health Ministry reported that substandard helmets cause 15.9 per cent of head trauma injuries.
The Science and Technology Ministry has recommended that the Industry and Trade Ministry include helmets in the list of goods controlled by trade conditions. — VNS