Vietnam can’t always be risk managedPosted: October 17, 2012
As a volunteer here I wasn’t allowed to own my own motorbike, I also didn’t get paid enough to take taxis.
Instead I had to rely on motorbike taxis (xe oms).
The volunteer organisation for insurance reasons, insisted that we had to wear a full face helmet on a motorbike. If you actually have a motorbike you’ve somewhere to leave your helmet, if you don’t then you carry it around all day. Having no bike and yet being permanently attached to my helmet was especially curious to Vietnamese people and I didn’t begrudge them their giggles.
Now free of such regulations, but with Vietnam sensibly making no helmet a criminal offence, I now use a skateboard helmet.
I don’t doubt that full face would be a better, safer option. But it would also be cumbersome, hot and sweaty – not nearly as big a blow as sustaining head injuries but one inconvenience is daily, if minor, and the other – well you hope it never happens.
Because the common sense option is not just wear the full face, it’s don’t ride a motorbike. It’s don’t go out in the traffic. It’s don’t move to Vietnam. It’s stay at home.
I once had to fill in a form from my volunteer organisation asking, among other questions, about what special measures I took to avoid traffic accidents when crossing the road. I told them I kept my eyes open. For tickbox, paperwork purposes that appeared to be enough but I’m sure they’d rather I didn’t cross the road at all.
The skateboard helmet is a trade-off. Certified, western-made, not of cheap, Chinese eggshell design but not full face either. We instinctively make such risk management trade offs daily.
I’ve been in situations where the choice is to go with the drunk driver or be left in the dark in the middle of nowhere.
That’s a decision that a risk manager can’t answer for you but it’s still the kind of decision you have to take sometimes.