Background: Traffic crashes are a major cause of global morbidity and mortality disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Motorcycle taxi (boda boda) drivers are particularly vulnerable because they are exposed to traffic risks with limited safety equipment. This study aims to characterize injury prevalence and safety habits among boda boda drivers, as well as ways to improve road traffic safety in LMICs.
Methods: A cross-sectional mixed methods study was conducted with 300 boda boda drivers between 24 March and 3 April 2014 in urban Moshi, Tanzania. A convenience sample of participants was drawn from 25 of 58 registered boda boda stands and 2 of 31 unregistered stands. Data were analyzed using R, and content thematic analysis was performed and agreed upon by three investigators. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between boda boda characteristics and injury risk.
Results: In total, 300 drivers participated, of whom 148 (49.3%) had experienced a crash during their lifetime, and 114 (77.0%) sustained at least one injury. Only 27 of those injured (23.4%) were hospitalized. Of all participants, 220 (73.3%) reported consistent helmet usage, despite 285 participants (95.0%) agreeing that helmet usage reduces injury severity. From the 280 helmets observed, 231 (82.5%) were either damaged or fit improperly. Having a cracked helmet was associated with higher risk of being involved in a traffic crash. Owning a helmet with a proper fit was associated with reduced risk for a traffic crash (OR = 0.06) and road traffic injuries (OR = 0.07). A thematic analysis of boda boda drivers' suggestions to increase road safety identified four intervention areas: 1) roadway infrastructure and traffic regulation, 2) road user attitudes and safe driving behaviors, 3) education and training, and 4) law enforcement.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates boda boda drivers' safety behaviors and identifies four intervention areas that can be leveraged to increase overall road traffic safety. Unfortunately, while boda boda drivers are aware of ways to improve safety, adherence to safety habits remains low. Successful multi-sectoral interventions are needed to improve road safety for boda boda drivers in Tanzania.