Thanks to the trend, helmet manufacturers dodge the law by producing low-quality products -- for a cheap price -- and stamp it as ‘used only for walking or playing sports’ such as kicking a shuttle cock or playing badminton.
Skipping through comments on the genuine need of walkers if they need such helmets, the manufacturers certainly target motorbike riders who wish to wear cheap products simply to evade punishment by police and not for personal safety.
Low quality products used far and wide
In Ho Chi Minh City, especially in suburbs of District 6, Go Vap, Binh Tan, Binh Chanh and Tan Binh, it’s easy to find low-quality helmets displayed for sale on the pavement along busy streets.
In appearance, a low-quality helmet looks much like the genuine product, with a hard plastic cover, a spongy layer inside to protect the wearer from collisions, and a strap. Besides quality control and checking stamps, another stamp saying ‘Used only for walking’ is posted at the back of the helmet.
They are sold for only VND25,000 a piece, or just over one US dollar while a genuine helmet costs at least four times that.
Mr. Luu, owner of a helmet distribution firm in Binh Hung Hoa B Ward in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Tan District, said he has over 30 models of helmets ranging from VND25,000 – VND75,000 and he can distribute 2,000 helmets within three days after having an order.
He said his products sell well in provinces as they are cheap and ‘meet quality standards for having enough of the three components required in a unit’.
For helmets ‘used for walking ’, its spongy layer -- which is designed to absorb force during a collision -- is so thin that it can easily be pierced with a finger. The plastic cover has a strong smell of recycled pitch.
An official from the Quality Control Unit in the city reported that a quality spongy layer from a genuine helmet weighs at least 120 grams while the one ‘for walking’ is 30-40g.
Unregistered stamps used on helmets 'for walking' to dodge the law (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
A vendor in Phu Lam Park in District 6 told a customer, “Before use, you should unglue the stamp ‘used for walking’. It is added there to meet legal requirements. . Don’t worry even when it is checked by traffic police.”
Helmets ‘for walking’ are also displayed along Truong Chinh and Ly Thuong Kiet streets, leading into the city.
Ly Ngoc Thang, chief of the Market Management Unit 3A in Ho Chi Minh City, said, “Everyone knows that these low quality products are a form of dodging the law as I see no people walking wearing these helmets on the street.
“I think there must be regulations made to adjust and control the kind of helmets used‘for walking ’. In my opinion, it should be applied with the current quality control regulation.”
Tran Viet Thanh, deputy Minister of Sciences and Technology, admitted that now Vietnam has quality control regulations on wearing helmets while riding motorbikes and electric bikes.
He said he would pass the ‘newly-emerging walking helmets to the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Industry and Trade for consideration.