WHO issues guidelines for helmet use to reduce road accidents, deaths
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued guidelines proposing use of helmets for both two and three-wheelers across the world to reduce road accidents and casualties. The guidelines aim to aware two-wheeler and three-wheeler riders about the benefits of wearing a helmet, along with the right kind of products that may help save lives. WHO came up with the guidelines with help from experts at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The guidelines also touch upon pedestrian safety to reduce deaths or injuries in road accident cases.
According to the guidelines issued by WHO, people should wear full-face covering helmets. It also says that the helmets should be tightly strapped on for it to offer maximum safety. According to the global health watchdog, such helmets have the potential to bring down fatal injuries by up to 64 per cent and brain injuries by up to 74 per cent.
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The guidelines come at a time when the debate around road safety in India has been raging after death of Cyrus Mistry last weekend. Nearly half of all road accidents in India in 2021, involved two-wheelers and three-wheelers. Report shared by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) show more than 44 per cent of all road accidents that took place in India last year involved two-wheelers. Most of these accidents took place due to high speed. The number of people who lost their lives in two-wheeler accidents last year was nearly 70,000, about half of 1.6 lakh deaths in road accidents overall.
WHO says that use of two and three-wheelers have increased rapidly in South East Asian countries. According to WHO, two and three-wheelers were involved in about 43 per cent of all road traffic deaths in the South East Asian Region. Dr Nhan Tran, Head of Safety and Mobility at WHO, said, “These new manuals are crucial tools to help policymakers build the safe mobility systems we need to halve deaths from crashes by 2030. With poor infrastructure, pedestrians, particularly in developing countries, are often left dangerously exposed. Motorcycles, scooters, bicycles and e-bikes continue to proliferate fast and the use of life-saving helmets is a must."
The IIT Delhi experts said that pedestrians too are one of the most vulnerable victims of road accidents. Pedestrian deaths rose at nearly twice the rate of all other road crash deaths between 2013 and 2016. In 2021, pedestrian death in road accidents in India is placed third contributing more than 12 per cent of overall number of accidents that took place. "Pedestrian deaths account for around 30 per cent of all deaths from road traffic crashes in India. In some large Indian cities, the proportion of pedestrians killed is up to 60 per cent of all road traffic deaths," said Geetam Tiwari, a professor at IIT Delhi.
According to WHO officials, road accidents kill about two people every minute and over 1.3 million people every year. Globally, road accidents are the leading cause of death among children and young people aged between 5 and 29 years, WHO officials stated.