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The validity of self-reported helmet-use among motorcyclists in India
  1. S Wadhwaniya1,
  2. S Gupta1,
  3. S Tetali2,
  4. A Hyder1
  1. 1Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA
  2. 2Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad, India


    Background Motorcyclists constitute the largest proportion of vehicle users on Indian roads. They are also vulnerable to road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths. Helmet-use can reduce the risk of injuries among them. Helmet-use rates can be determined by different methodologies.

    Objectives To compare observed and self-reported helmet-use rates among motorcyclists in Hyderabad city, India.

    Methods To determine helmet-use rates observations were recorded for motorcycle drivers (n=68 229) and pillion riders (n=21 777). By a different methodology, roadside interviews were conducted with motorcycle drivers (n=606) where they were asked if they ‘always wear a helmet’ and observations were also recorded for them.

    Results In observational study, 22.6% of motorcycle drivers and 1.1% pillion riders were found wearing helmets. In roadside interview, 64.6% of the respondents reported to always use helmet, much higher than the observed rate of 29.3% in the same group. ‘It can save my life’ (99.2%) was common reason for always using helmets. Reasons for not always using helmets included not having one (27.4%), depending on where they drive (25.1%) and forgetting it sometimes (23.7%). In purchasing helmet, quality (66.0%), certification (15.2%) and brand/company name (7.7%) were given more importance than price (4.6%), style/look (2.6%) and colour (1.8%). Only 2.3% were stopped by police in the past three months to check helmet-use.

    Significance Discrepancy between observed and self-reported helmet-use rates suggest that observational studies can provide more valid helmet-use rates than those that are self-reported. Increased enforcement might be an effective strategy to increase helmet-use among drivers who are aware of its importance.

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