Motorcycle helmet safety initiative launches in Kenya
A national motorcycle helmet coalition is to be established in Kenya as part of a major effort to increase motorcycle and motorised three-wheeler safety for riders and their passengers. It follows research which shows that a motorcycle helmet can reduce the risk of death by 42 per cent and risk of head injury by 69 per cent in a crash.
The project was announced as part of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's (FIA) Safe and Affordable Helmet Programme – which has seen the creation of an innovative new high-quality motorcycle helmet which meets UN safety standard 22.05, is comfortable in hot and humid climates, and available at a target selling price of around 20 USD.
Sam Clark, Head of Programmes, Transaid: "The FIA and FIA Foundation are committed to achieving large-scale deployment of their Safe and Affordable Helmet Programme, and we believe strongly that a national helmet wearing coalition has the potential to deliver transformational change. We are going to be engaging with government, police, hospitals, private sector, transport associations and communities to develop the solutions which make Kenyan journeys safer."
Independent global road safety philanthropy the FIA Foundation will provide ongoing support for the initiative and has appointed Transaid to lead an initial 18-month project to build a national network of stakeholders to improve safety and reduce injury nationally. Transaid is an international development organisation with extensive experience in motorcycle and three-wheeler safety and has worked in Kenya previously.
Kevin Mubadi, President, Boda Boda Safety Association Kenya: "Our industry is an essential and growing element of Kenya's transport system, but the challenge to access safe, affordable and appropriate helmets means that the number of riders suffering from serious head injuries is on the rise. We are committed to taking a leading role in the national helmet coalition implementation and we welcome the FIA Foundation's funding for the multi-sectoral approach which will seek to advocate for greater use of helmets to deliver safer Kenyan roads."
The majority of the estimated 1.4 million motorcycles in Kenya are used as "boda bodas" – and whilst compulsory motorcycle helmet use laws exist, enforcement is currently inconsistent and helmet use is low.
Saul Billingsley, Executive Director, FIA Foundation: "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."
Kenya currently has amongst the highest road traffic death rates in Africa, with 12,463 road traffic-related deaths reported in 2018.