Disparity in motorcycle helmet use in Thailand

Int J Equity Health. 2013 Aug 30;12:74. doi: 10.1186/1475-9276-12-74.


The dispersion of motorcycle related injuries and deaths might be a result of disparity in motorcycle helmet use. This study uses national roadside survey data, injury sentinel surveillance data and other national data sets in 2010 of Thailand, a country with high mortality related to motorcycle injuries, to explore the disparity in helmet use, explanatory factors of the disparity. It also assessed potential agreement and correlation between helmet use rate reported by the roadside survey and the injury sentinel surveillance. This report revealed helmet use rate of 43.7%(95% CI:43.6,43.9) nationwide with the highest rate (81.8%; 95% CI: 44.0,46.4) in Bangkok. Helmet use rate in drivers (53.3%; 95% CI: 53.2,53.8) was 2.5 times higher than that in passengers (19.3%; 95% CI:18.9,19.7). In relative terms (highest-to-lowest ratio,HLR), geographical disparity in helmet use was found to be higher in passengers (HLR = 28.5). Law enforcement activities as indicated by the conviction rate of motorcyclists were significantly associated with the helmet use rate (spline regression coefficient = 3.90, 95% CI: 0.48,7.33). Together with the finding of HLR for conviction rate of 87.24, it is suggested that more equitable improvement in helmet use could be achieved by more equitable distribution of the police force. Finally, we found poor correlation (r = 0.01; p value = 0.76) and no agreement (difference = 34.29%; 95% CI:13.48%, 55.09%) between roadside survey and injury sentinel surveillance in estimating helmet use rate. These findings should be considered a warning for employing injury surveillance to monitor policy implementation of helmet use.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control*
  • Head Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Law Enforcement
  • Motorcycles / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Safety / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Thailand