Objectives: This study investigated the effect of the helmet act for motorcyclists on increasing helmet use and reducing motorcycle-related deaths and severe injuries in Thailand.
Methods: Data were derived from a trauma registry at the Khon Kaen Regional Hospital in the northeast Thailand. Helmet use and outcome in motorcycle crashes were compared 2 years before (1994-1995) and after (1996-1997) enforcement of the helmet act. During the study period, there were 12002 injured motorcyclists including 129 death cases in the municipality of Khon Kaen Province who were brought to the regional hospital.
Results: After enforcement of the helmet act, helmet-wearers increased five-fold while head injuries decreased by 41.4% and deaths by 20.8%. Those who had head or neck injuries or died were less likely wearing a helmet. Compliance of helmet use was lower at night. Fatality of injured motorcyclists did not significantly decrease in the post-act period and among helmet-wearers.
Conclusion: Enforcement of the helmet act increased helmet-wearers among motorcyclists but helmet use did not significantly reduce deaths among injured motorcyclists. Motorcyclists should be instructed to properly and consistently wear a helmet for their safety.