A new step forward in Kenya for the FIA Safe & Affordable Helmet Programme

The FIA is working on the Safe and Affordable Helmet Programme to facilitate the deployment of motorcycle helmets that meet UN safety standards, that are comfortable in hot and humid climates, and available at a target selling price of around 20 USD. Kenya is positioning itself as the starting point for this ambitious initiative. On the occasion of the Safari Rally celebration, round 6 of the FIA World Rally Championship, a new step forward has been taken today in Nairobi.

Since 2020, the FIA, with the support of the FIA Foundation, has been working on the Safe and Affordable Helmet Programme to facilitate the deployment of motorcycle helmets that meet UN safety standards, that are comfortable in hot and humid climate and available at a target selling price of around 20 USD. The FIA Safety Department, which is normally tasked with developing safety equipment for competitions, used its expertise to achieve this objective. In markets where the population is largely dependent on two-wheel motorized transport, and where the hot climate and the high purchase price prevent many motorcyclists from wearing a helmet, the FIA Safe & Affordable Helmet Programme contributes to reducing motorcycle related fatalities. Research shows that helmet wearing is one of the most effective road safety interventions, reducing the number of head injuries among moped riders and motorcyclists by around 44%.

The objective of the programme is to distribute as many helmets as possible and request the support of governments and the private sector to achieve that.

Today, Kenya is positioning itself as the starting point for this ambitious initiative. On the occasion of the Safari Rally celebration, round 6 of the FIA World Championship, a special event took place today at noon at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi. This event has been held in the presence of His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, Jean Todt, FIA President and the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Dr Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture of Kenya and László Palkovics, Minister for Innovation and Technology of Hungary.

Africa has the highest estimated road traffic fatality rate of 26.6 per 100,000. With a motorcycle fleet of 1.4 million vehicles and an estimated 12,463 road traffic-related deaths in 2018, Kenya has amongst the highest road traffic death rates in Africa. This initiative has the potential to reduce fatalities and injuries on Kenya’s roads. This event has also served to launch the Helmet Wearing Coalition for Kenya. Supported by the FIA Foundation and led by Transaid, this coalition is a multi-sectoral group with participants from government (National Transport & Safety Authority, Ministry of Health, Traffic Police, etc.), the Automobile Association of Kenya – FIA Member Club, the Kenyan Red Cross, the Motorcycle Taxi Associations, the private sector, civil society groups and international development partners such as the World Bank, the World Health Organisation among others working to develop the solutions to make Kenyan journeys safer.

5,000 helmets (including 1,200 in Kenya) will be donated by the Keep Fighting Foundation, inspired by Michael Schumacher’s family, the first partner of this FIA Programme, and Hungarian Motorsport Development Agency on behalf of the Hungarian Government which has chosen Kenya as a beneficiary of its donation of 6,300 helmets to advance helmet safety across the country. They will be distributed as part of the work promoted by the Helmet Wearing Coalition for Kenya to raise awareness of the importance of safe and high-quality helmets among two-wheeler riders and professional boda-boda drivers, and on the need to upgrade helmet standards. The helmet recipients will undergo two-wheeler safety training by the Automobile Association of Kenya and accredited safety training organisations.

Jean Todt, FIA President, said: “Wearing a helmet is a key issue in protecting the lives of two-wheeled riders. The FIA Safe & Affordable Helmet Programme is part of the consolidated action that our Federation is taking to make a profound impact on this global challenge. I salute the authorities of Kenya for their participation and sincerely thank the FIA Foundation, Transaid and our two partners that have enabled us to take a step forward: The Keep Fighting Foundation and the Hungarian Ministry of Infrastructure. I urge other governments and the private sector to join this initiative.

Dr Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture of Kenya, said: “The Safari Rally Action for Road Safety Campaign is a timely initiative. The distribution of helmets to vulnerable road users in Kenya, particularly, the Boda Boda industry, will help in reducing the number of road accident fatalities, and to easing the financial burden of medical care for families. The Kenyan Government remains committed to enhancing road safety and will support all the individuals and institutions, that are involved in the road safety campaign project. I thank our partners, the FIA and the Ministry for Innovation and Technology of Hungary (HUMDA) whose continued engagement will greatly impact our roads and economy. 

Saul Billingsley, FIA Foundation Executive Director, said: 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 motorized two or three-wheelers and the rate is rising rapidly. The activities of the FIA’s Safe & Affordable Helmet Programme aim to help 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.”

Sabine Kehm, Keep Fighting Foundation, said: “The Keep Fighting Foundation is honoured to support the FIA Safe & Affordable Helmet Programme in Kenya, leveraging on a motorsport event. The objective of increasing safety has always been close to Michael’s heart: we are pleased to see that in Kenya these helmets will support the work of a local network of organisations committed to save lives.”

László Palkovics, Minister for Innovation and Technology of Hungary, said: “We are very proud to support this unique initiative where I believe we have a fruitful cooperation in the field of road safety. The Hungarian Motorsport Development Agency provides support to the motor drivers in Kenya not only on cross border but cross continental level. It is our common goal to cut the numbers of road traffic death, where each of us can take a small step to contribute.”

Source : Fia