Vietnam’s Most Ridiculous Law

I’m sure that there are many other pointless laws in this nation, and I’m sure that many people will not agree with this, but the way I see it, the most pointless law in Vietnam is the mandatory helmet law.

Motorbikes are the main form of transportation in Vietnam, and most of them do not exceed 125cc (mine is the average and is 97cc). It takes a lot of time and empty road to get them going fast. I’ve probably maxed out at 40 mph on an empty street before encountering traffic and having to slow down.

A simple fact of transportation is this: the faster you go, the more dangerous it is. With speeds averaging 20 mph or so in the city, wearing helmets is just annoying and hot.

Another simple fact about motorbike helmets in Vietnam that lawmakers didn’t take into account when they passed this law: People look ridiculous when they hop off their motorbike and step into a shop wearing a helmet. I’ve seen people in taxis and elevators wearing helmets, and I just look and them and wonder why. Clearly, the “I look like I have seizures” and/or “I’m in a Renaissance fair” looks are fetishes of higher-ups in the nation.

Fratire aside, this is the real reason why the mandatory helmet law in Vietnam is ridiculous: There are no safety standards. That’s right, I could tie a large ceramic bowl to my head with a piece of string for a strap and the police would not pull me over.

Imagine laws designed to protect people without standards. Cars in the states could have bailing twine for seat belts and balloons for airbags. Parachutes could be made out of a couple trash bags. Catchers’ masks could be made out of papier-mache.

If there are laws in place to protect people, there need to be benchmark standards for the equipment that actually protects them.

My suggestion: change the law to make it legal to drive within cities and towns with no helmet. Outside of towns and city limits, make it mandatory to wear larger helmets that cover more of the rider’s head, rather than the plastic baseball caps with a strap that pass for legal helmets now.

It’s just common sense.

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10 thoughts on “Vietnam’s Most Ridiculous Law”

  1. Best way to not have to worry about standards? Don’t make it a law. If you don’t want to wear a helmet on highway 1, you don’t have to. But you have to suffer the consequences of that decision. I would still wear my protec and it’s why my daughter has a helmet even though she isn’t by law required one. I’d prefer not to risk it, but I don’t need a law to tell me so. I don’t need the State to protect me. Libertarian out, haha.

  2. Well put. I would always wear a helmet when traveling on a highway. There’s something utterly asinine about a law that legally allows a traffic cop to pull me over if I’m driving safely and obeying all traffic laws but don’t have a flimsy piece of plastic strapped to my head.

  3. What’s asinine is any law that assumes guilt before crime (crime here meaning damage to property or persons) committed. So cellphones, helmets, and to its far extension, drunk driving really aren’t punishable (as most clearly demonstrated here).

  4. 1st point: Do helmets even make riding a bike safer? I think they can prevent head trauma in certain kinds of falls, if worn properly, if the helmet has never been dropped, and is a good helmet to begin with, and the fall doesn’t cause your neck to bend.

    2nd point: Traveling at 40mph is still fast enough to get hurt bad. Combine that with cars traveling 40mph in the opposite direction. Good luck.

  5. #3: There is a benchmark/standard for helmets which is what that tiny hologram sticker on new helmets certifies. Of course, being Vietnam, cheap helmet manufacturers can find ways to buy fake stickers to make their helmets look ‘safe & tested’.

  6. Points taken. Helmets may have a standard here in Vietnam, but this is something that is certainly not checked by the police in the even of being pulled over for violations.

  7. Article by Reuters on 3 July:
    Motorcyclist crashes in helmet law protest, dies

    NEW YORK | Sun Jul 3, 2011 3:03pm EDT
    (Reuters) – A bare-headed motorcyclist riding in protest of New York state’s helmet law crashed, struck his head on the roadway and died from his injuries, state police said on Sunday.

    Philip Contos, 55, was riding among a large group of motorcyclists staging an organized protest ride in western New York near Syracuse against the state law requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets.

    The Parish, New York, resident crashed on Saturday on Route 11 in Onondaga, New York, and was pronounced dead later at a local hospital, state Trooper Robert Jureller said.

    “The doctor felt that the death could have been prevented if he simply had been wearing a helmet,” Jureller said. “He hit the brakes, lost control, was ejected and struck his head on the road. He suffered a skull fracture.”

  8. from what you’ve told me about ‘nam is that cars and motorbikes drive scary/recklessly anyway (maybe Dylan said that…or Josh…SOMEONE said it, is the point). It’s not necessarily the helmet that saves your life but the safe way in which you operate your motorbike and how you deal with other drivers on the road.

    I’m for helmets, but I don’t know if I think people should be forced to wear them. I ride with one in Chicago but many people do not. I had a participant in my Spinning class who fractured her skull because just the one time, she went out without a helmet. It was her choice, and now she has to live with it.

    Like you said, law enforcement should spend less time pulling people over for not wearing protective headgear and more time trying to get others to obey the rules of the road

  9. Mel posted the article but many others have read it as well, and I published this post around the same time. Talk about a strange coincidence.

    However, what I’m getting, especially from Tyler and Alicia, is that helmets are probably a good thing (yes, better to be safe than sorry), but it shouldn’t be something that we are forced to wear, especially when there are so many other dangerous driving practices in Vietnam.

    As Tyler pointed out once with me, traffic is a contentious issue in Vietnam, especially among the expatriate population. We all have different ideas, but just one goal in mind: making the roads here safer for everyone.

  10. Helmets are downright dangerous. They bounce unpredictably like footballs when dropped from motorbikes. It’s a real eyeopener at high speed. If you manage to swerve and avoid this bouncing betty, expect to then deal with the perplexed owner who’s come to a surprise stop in heavy traffic 50 meters ahead to seek out the stray helmet. Ever hit a helmet with your front wheel! Whoaaa. But don’t try this with coconuts. How about people fiddling with their damn helmets – it’s worse than texting. If helmets are required, why not shirts?

    Helmet saved me one day from a casting fisherman atop the bridge- Fishhook in the face at 30 km/h. Yikes, just when you think you’ve seen every imaginable traffic hazard.

    Let’s talk moto-phobias. Fear of manhole covers, fear of puddles, fear of searing sun (e.g. unexpected premature red light stops under shade), fear of missing out (abrupt stops for sidewalk sales, gawking etc.).

    Happy motoring!

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