Would a Helmet Protect Your Kid From a Tsunami of Death?

A heart breaking tale from the highways of Asia...

By , Columnist
How many people died from the tsunami in Japan, or the tornado in Joplin? You have some numbers in your head, but whatever those numbers are, they're not even close to the number of traffic deaths in Asia (figure the populations of just China and India and start doing the math), and a great number of those deaths come from motorbike accidents.

Let me give you some more digestible statistics: In America, there were 30,797 traffic fatalities in 2009 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And the US has a population of 300 million. In Vietnam, there were 15,000 traffic related deaths, according to the World Health Organization, but a population of just under 90 million - making the traffic fatality rate 50% higher than that of the United States.

baby in bucket on bike.jpg
You've no doubt seen the photos of five on a bike, or six, or seven. In the photo on the left, we get nine, including the baby in the bucket. And yes, that's damn funny, but what is less funny is when you see a family riding around town with the parents' heads properly protected and the kids wearing nothing on their heads at all. Negligent doesn't begin to describe the parental stupidity there - and we see plenty of that here.

Three years ago, the government mounted a public service effort to get people to start wearing helmets in the first place. Before that, no one wore them. Instituting steep ($10 is steep here) fines for non-compliance, 5000 police were dispatched to the streets of Saigon on one Saturday morning, and voila! The helmet law took hold.

But what didn't take hold was any protection for riders not old enough to drive - that meant that kids, the most vulnerable of all, didn't have to wear a helmet. The Asia Injury Protection foundation, along with Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam, did the campaign above with great success, but have had less success with their efforts on minors. Laws in country prevent fining minors for traffic violations.
But should the government have to protect children from stupid parents? Doesn't seem so. People die accidental deaths every day; but when the cause is right before their eyes and they don't do anything about it, it makes us wonder if we have forgotten the most human of instincts of all - the protection of life.


Egg/baby campain: David Everitt-Carlson, copy/concept - Photography, Mads Monsen
Helmet campaign & TVC, Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam

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David has spent most of his career in advertising. That alone should call his writing skills into question. David currently writes the Wild Wild East Dailies from Saigon but has trouble seeing the forest for the trees because it's a jungle out there.

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