There are more than three hundred million motorbikes, mopeds and scooters around the world, and 80% of these are in Asia. But the majority of countries in this region allow for the use of helmets that provide lower protection compared to the United Nations helmet standards, which are mandated across most of Europe and in 79 countries around the world.
Viewed globally, this is an important issue as there are currently over 30 national helmet standards and they vary significantly in terms of safety. The majority of helmets from the Asian market, for instance, would be unable to meet the UN helmet regulation (UN Reg. 22.05). But helmets available in markets that meet the UN regulation are too expensive and are not specifically designed for the hot and humid climate typical for Asia.
This has created a dangerous disparity - the region of the world with the most motorbike riders accepts the use of helmets with lower safety performance. And as the usage of powered two-wheel vehicles increases, so does the fatality rate, to epidemic proportions.
Looking at this problem globally, one of the key objectives of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety is to reduce motorcycle casualties by encouraging the use of safe helmets. The UN study found that up to 3.4 million deaths might result from motorcycle crashes between 2008 and 2020. As many as 1.4 million of those fatalities could be avoided with the proper use of safe helmets. A policy on wearing motorcycle helmets is, therefore, essential for promoting safety.
Such policy action is also aligned with the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, developed by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Regional Commissions, in cooperation with partners and other stakeholders. To ensure vehicle and road user safety, the Global Plan recommends, among other actions, motorcycle helmets are certified according to international harmonized standards and are mandated to use.