Fatalities in road accidents involving motorcycles are high as most of the helmets used by riders are substandard in the country. While 100 per cent riders in Dhaka city wear helmets, it’s time to focus on the standard of the helmets and increase awareness about the necessity of wearing helmets outside the capital. Many bikers cannot afford standard helmets due to exorbitant prices as the market is fully import oriented. The speakers recommended slashing import duties to make helmets more affordable.
The speakers said this at a discussion focusing on the importance of the use of national safety standard helmets for motorcycle riders took place at a city hotel on Sunday. BRAC and the World Bank jointly organised the advocacy event.
Speaking as chief guest, road transport and highways division’s secretary ABM Amin Ullah Nuri said a social movement involving government organisations, non-government organisations and development partners is needed to create awareness regarding the issue.
“The government cannot alone implement the standard helmet law,” he added mentioning that Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI) and law enforcers are working concertedly in this end.
Speaking as special guest, BRTA chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder said the number of motorcycles in the country is increasing with the growth of our economy. Wearing no helmets at all or substandard helmets contributes to the severity of casualties.
“Now that BSTI has fixed the helmet standard for Bangladesh, we have to make sure that no one is allowed to ride motorcycles without wearing the standard safety helmets," he added.
The BSTI formulated the standardisation and the government enacted a law regarding safety standard for motorcycle helmets in October last year.
Replying to a question regarding high price of standard helmets during open discussion session, BSTI director general Md Abdus Sattar said the prices of standard helmets in the market ranges from Tk 3,000 to Tk 70,000 and the lowest priced ones are also safe to use given that it is certified by BSTI.
He urged the customers to buy helmets that are certified by the BSTI.
BSTI DG recommended safe driving education for vehicle riders in all training programmes, arranging a series of awareness programmes with relevant stakeholders, enforcing the law on the motorcycle riders and making licence issuing process for riders more rigorous.
Additional inspector general of Police Md Atiqul Islam said enforcement of ‘no helmet, no fuel’ policy has paid off as 100 per cent motorcycle riders in Dhaka wear helmets. Now steps are being taken to ensure use of standard helmets and law enforcement would do its own part in this end.
Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, thanked Bangladesh government for adopting the national safety standard for helmets.
Unfortunately, most helmets available in Bangladesh do not meet international standards when it comes to quality and protectionAbdoulaye Seck, World Bank country director
“Unfortunately, most helmets available in Bangladesh do not meet international standards when it comes to quality and protection. World Bank is honoured to partner with Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, BRAC and the Government of Bangladesh to launch and advocate for standard helmets”.
Pierre CASTAING, international consultant for World Bank for its road safety initiatives, joined the event online. In his presentation, he said as Bangladesh has enacted a law, it is time to take measures to execute the law.
He recommended banning the use of modified or repaired helmets and enforcing the law at importers, dealers and users levels.
BRAC’s Road Safety Programme director Ahmed Najmul Hussain said, “Enforcing laws for standard helmets will need both training of traffic police as well as setting up of traffic cameras, especially on city roads and highways to watch on the helmets used by the riders.
He also underscored creating public awareness on the benefits of wearing standard helmets.
Dipan Bose, senior transport specialist of World Bank, and team leader, World Bank-financed Bangladesh Road Safety Project, said, “The World Bank recognises the importance of road safety as a critical development priority. We are committed to working together with the Bangladesh government and all relevant stakeholders in this endeavour”.
Dilshad Dossani, programme coordinator, World Bank, presented a summary of recommendations on the basis of discussion at the advocacy event in her concluding remarks.
The recommendations included formation of a committee comprising government and non-government organisations concerned to prepare a roadmap, strategies and activities plan focusing on how the national safety standard helmets would be implemented, where and how many testing institutes will be required to be set up, how the police will be oriented and trained for enforcement, when will standard helmets be available in the market at an affordable price, how the awareness programs will continuously be planned for the general public and how the roadmap for updating national legal framework regarding certification and use of motorcycle helmets will be adopted and implemented.
After the discussion was concluded, UN standard helmets were distributed among selected individuals.