OBJECTIVE: To compare estimated prevalence of head injuries among road traffic injury patients admitted to hospitals, before and after the introduction of a mandatory helmet law in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.
METHODS: Before and after study of all road traffic injury patients with head injuries admitted to 20 provincial and central hospitals 3 months before and after the new law came into effect on 15 December 2007. Relative risk was computed and comparison made for the periods of 3 months before and after the new law.
RESULTS: The study found a 16 percent reduction in the risk of road traffic head injuries (4683 to 3522; relative risk [RR] 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.81-0.87) and an 18 percent reduction in the risk of road traffic death (deaths in hospital plus injured patients discharged to die at home; 566 to 417; RR 0.82; 95% CI 0.73-0.93).
CONCLUSIONS: Over the first 3 months of the comprehensive mandatory helmet legislation there has been a significant reduction in the risk of road traffic head injuries among patients admitted to 20 hospitals. The Viet Nam Government's decision to require all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear helmets is suspected of leading to positive road safety benefits and should be seen as a policy example for other low- and middle-income countries with a high utilization of motorcycles for transport.