Monday, June 28, 2021

Transport Charity Turns to Address Slack Safety Standards in a New Field

Needless Deaths and Injuries as Motorcycle Riders Spurn Helmets
Shipping News Feature

UK – KENYA – Nobody will ever be able to accuse transport charity Transaid of not having a diverse portfolio. Having instituted professional driver training and introduced bicycle ambulances across Africa the organisation then stepped up to fight malaria. Now it's pushing the message that motor cycle helmets save lives.

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and global road safety philanthropy organisation FIA Foundation, have chosen Transaid to develop a national network of key stakeholders to improve safety and reduce injury and fatalities across Kenya using the charity’s extensive experience in motorcycle and motorised three-wheeler safety.

The project aims to reduce the severity of motorcycle-related head injuries and fatalities on the country’s roads, which has amongst the highest road traffic death rates in Africa (according to the World Health Organisation, 2018). This follows the launch of the programme’s innovative new low-cost, high-quality motorcycle helmet which meets UN safety standard 22.05, is comfortable in hot and humid climates (following extensive field-testing in Jamaica and Tanzania), and available at a target selling price of around $20.

The majority of the estimated 1.4 million motorcycles in Kenya are used as taxis, known locally as ‘boda bodas’ and providing point-to-point transport within both congested cities and rural areas. Research has shown that a motorcycle helmet can reduce the risk of death by 42% and risk of head injury by 69% in a crash. While Kenya already has a compulsory motorcycle helmet use, law enforcement is currently inconsistent and helmet use is low.

The coalition will engage with government, police, hospitals, private sector, transport associations and communities across the country to develop the solutions to make Kenyan journeys safer. Recently FIA President Jean Todt met with His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, to showcase the new helmets and discuss road safety. Announcing the new initiative, Caroline Barber, Transaid CEO, said:

“The FIA and FIA Foundation are committed to achieving large-scale deployment of its Safe & Affordable Helmet Programme in Kenya, and this initial 18-month project’s objectives were a perfect match with our expertise.

“We believe strongly that a national helmet wearing coalition has the potential to deliver transformational change, and we have started work immediately on developing a plan to engage civil society and mobilise communities to reduce fatalities and injuries on Kenya’s roads.”

The project marks the second time Transaid and the FIA Foundation have worked together, having first partnered last year on a project to protect communities in rural Zambia from Covid-19. Saul Billingsley, Executive Director for the FIA Foundation, commented:

“Use and access to affordable yet quality helmets in low- and middle-income countries such as Kenya has historically been low, making riders vulnerable to serious injury, in particular head injuries. More than a quarter of global road traffic deaths represent motorised two or three-wheelers and the rate is rising rapidly.

“Establishing a national helmet wearing coalition, with Transaid’s support, helps to address the need for greater awareness of road safety amongst riders, and lay the groundwork for the cross-sectoral cooperation and active engagement of civil society and communities.”

Photo: FIA President Jean Todt introduces the helmets.