208311 Predictors of helmet use behaviors among San Francisco Bay Area motorcyclists

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thomas M. Rice, MPH, PhD , Department of Environmental Health Services, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Casey Tsui, MPH , Human Impact Partners, Oakland, CA
Swati Pande , Traffic Safety Center, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

California has had a universal helmet use law since 1992. While helmet use in the state is close to 100%, helmet type and quality vary greatly. Little is known about factors associated with helmet use choices.


The objectives of this analysis were to determine the patterns of helmet use among participants in the survey and to identify predictors of the use of specific helmet types. We conducted a survey of 861 San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA) motorcyclists. 270 motorcyclists were sampled at recreational riding areas, 549 were sampled by leafleting motorcycles parked in public areas in 5 SFBA cities, and 42 by postings on motorcycling Internet venues.


Ninety-two percent of respondents reported wearing a full face helmet often or some of the time, and 23% reported wearing a full open face helmet at least sometimes. No association was observed between helmet type and miles ridden per week. Full-face helmet use decreased as age increased, and the opposite is true for all other helmet types. Confidence in riding ability increased as the level of helmet protection decreased, with the exception of those that ride without helmets. Those who wore novelty helmets sometimes or often had the highest level of confidence.


This study has identified potential opportunities to increase helmet use by identifying the characteristics of riders who lack adequate helmet protection. A multivariate analysis to identify combinations of motorcycle type and brand that predict inadequate helmet use can be useful in designing encouragement or other prevention programs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the methods used in a survey of San Francisco Bay Area motorcyclists 2. Describe the patterns of helmet use among respondents 3. Describe the associations between personal characteristics and helmet types chosen by motorcyclists

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD Epidemiology; Designed and executed study
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.