The lives of 1.2 million children aged 10 to 19 globally were cut short in 2015 because of preventable road injuries, with low to middle-income countries in Southeast Asia and Africa accounting for two-thirds of those deaths, according to new data released by the World Health Organization.
Specific figures were not available but the report did confirm what many may have already known by now: road traffic injuries topped the cause of death among Vietnamese adolescents. The second and third biggest killers were drowning and leukemia, the report said.
In general, Vietnam also recorded the second highest road deaths per 10,000 people in the region in 2015, according to figures released earlier by WHO. On average, each year, around 9,000 people died on Vietnamese roads, costing the country approximately 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product.
“Every year in Vietnam the lives of thousands of families are torn apart by the loss of a child to a road accident that could have been prevented,” Jesper Moller, Acting Representative of UNICEF Vietnam, told the press in Hanoi this month.
The country passed the law that made helmet wearing compulsory for drivers and passengers, including child passengers on motorcycles in 2007.
But not all Vietnamese follow this rule.
In 2015, WHO estimated the helmet wearing rates at 96 percent and 83 percent for drivers and passengers respectively.
Jonathon Passmore, an injury prevention expert for WHO, said there's not enough statistical evidence to draw conclusions, but there has been indeed a small drop in traffic-related deaths in recent years since the helmet law came into effect.
He noted that around 80 percent of helmets in Vietnam fail to meet national quality standards.
To protect children, Lokky Wai, WHO representative in Vietnam, also suggested a speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour, instead of 60 kph now, for areas with many children, such as residential and school areas.