Since motorbikes are the most common and widely used mode of transportation in Vietnam, they have become deeply ingrained in the country's culture. The National Traffic Safety Committee estimates that there are approximately 50 million bikes in the country, with 86% of the households owning at least one. That is one motorbike for two people.
City dwellers and rural folks use motorcycles in very different ways. In the rural areas, the rules for riding and owning motorcycles are more relaxed because of the lack of policing. It is also not uncommon to see children as young as eight year old driving motorbikes on the road. There is a great risk of injury for these children and being involved in a motorcycle accident is one of their daily concerns.
Northern Vietnam's mountainous regions are where you'll find extraordinary women drivers. They whip past you on the steep mountains on their way to the fields, carrying a baby on their chest and a sharp machete slung across their backs.
As with many rules and regulations with driving in the west, we tend to overthink the safety precautions of driving motorbikes in Vietnam. That’s why more often than not, we find ourselves shaking our heads when we see locals driving without helmets. Though you will find more people wearing helmets in the city, most of the time only the driver wears one, whether they are driving their young children or the entire family.