USAID partnership launched with 6000 helmets donation
Michelle Yeoh, Global Road Safety Ambassador joined Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng to launch a major new partnership to promote motorcycle helmet use in Cambodia. The ‘Head Safe. Helmet On’ campaign is led by AIP Foundation with co-funding from USAID, UPS Foundation, US CDC and the FIA Foundation.
On Tuesday 9th December Michelle Yeoh, movie actress and road safety ambassador, and Cambodian Government officials came together to support the donation of 6,652 helmets to students and teachers of six schools in Phnom Penh. The helmet donation held at Toul Svay Prey Primary School was organized by the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, with the support of USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (USAID-DIV) as part of the “Head Safe. Helmet On.” project. The project aims to increase helmet wearing rates, advocate for legislation to mandate and enforce helmet use for passengers, including children, and implement school-based helmet safety education programs in classrooms.
Over 3,000 attendees, including partners from the FIA Foundation, The UPS Foundation, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attended the helmet donation ceremony. His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng; Director General Saul Billingsley of FIA Foundation; Dr. David Sleet, Associate Director for Science of CDC; Jeff McLean, General Manager of UPS Vietnam; Sean Callahan, USAID Cambodia Deputy Mission Director; and Greig Craft, President of AIP Foundation, were among the attendees.
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng presented Cambodian Government Medals to supporters in testimony of the government’s gratitude for their collaboration and contribution to road safety efforts in Cambodia.
The event came just a few days after the Cambodian National Assembly approved a new Road Traffic Law, in which motorcycle passengers—including children—are required to wear helmets. This is a milestone event after 8 years of collective efforts by many organisations, including the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation. In his speech Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng stressed the government’s intention to enforce the law and to finalise issues such as the maximum number of passengers allowed on a motorbike.
This was Michelle Yeoh’s second visit promoting road safety in Cambodia. At the ceremony, Ms. Yeoh instructed students on proper helmet use and urged all to wear their helmets. “Although all road users are at risk on the road, motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable. In Cambodia, they make up the majority of road crash victims. Helmet-wearing is the first step—the essential step—towards preventing traffic injuries and fatalities, especially among our children. Please make sure that all motorcycle riders and passengers always wear a helmet.”
Prior to the event, AIP Foundation held training courses for teachers and parents in order to ensure the project’s sustainability into the future. Throughout the school year, the project will include additional road safety activities along with helmet monitoring over the two years. Officials from US CDC joined Cambodian partners for a series of meetings and workshops to review methodology and evaluation for the initiative.
“The ‘Head Safe. Helmet On.’ project aims to increase passenger helmet rates in targeted communes to 30% within the first year, and to 80% in the second year,” said Sean Callahan, USAID Cambodia Deputy Mission Director. “Such an increase in helmet-wearing will prevent thousands of unnecessary road crash injuries and fatalities and save Cambodia millions of dollars.”
“The low rate of passengers on motorcycles with helmets is shocking: about only 9%,”said Jeff McLean, General Manager of UPS Vietnam. “It is visible simply by looking at the busy roads here in Phnom Penh; the fact that many of the passengers are children makes this statistic all the more distressing. The enactment of the motorcycle passenger helmet law is only the beginning; we must also support its enforcement and education throughout the country. I look forward to the day when our fleet can look at the roads and see all passengers, including children, wearing helmets.”
Saul Billingsley, FIA Foundation Director General, said: “This strong coalition of international and Cambodian partners is dedicated to making Cambodia’s roads safer. The FIA Foundation is proud to be part of the work being done here by AIP Foundation. Today’s donation is an important drive towards fewer road deaths nationally and globally and, in combination with the new Road Traffic Law, a great example for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. It is really pleasing and significant that USAID is stepping up to support this road safety effort. We are eager to see the progress that will be made over the next two years and beyond.”