240142 Risk and Protective Behaviors of Scooter Operators on a University Campus: Results from an Observational Field Study

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Robert M. Weiler, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Education & Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Lisa Pealer, MHSE, PhD , College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Daniel Connaughton, EdD , Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sports Management, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
John Egberts, MS , Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sports Management, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Background: Since 2001, the University of Florida [UF] has documented an increase in demand for motorcycle and scooter parking permits, peaking in 2008 with more than 4,000 permits sold. Although helmets are effective in preventing and reducing the severity of head injuries, anecdotal evidence suggests helmet use among scooter operators at UF is low. In response to three scooter fatalities of UF students within 18 months, we conducted an observational field study to examine the risk and protective behaviors of scooter operators. Methods: Direct observational data were collected from scooter operators as they approached 13 separate motorcycle/scooter parking lots on the UF campus during three consecutive days in October 2010. Results: The 1,110 distinct observations of scooter operators were equally distributed between males (51%) and females (49%). Only 15% (n=160) were observed wearing helmets. There was no significant difference between males and females. Helmet type was captured for 86% of operators observed wearing a helmet, with 39% wearing a full helmet and 60% wearing either a or helmet. Females were more likely to wear a half helmet (p=.0004). Operators wearing helmets were more likely to wear eye protection (P = 0.0001), and if carrying a passenger, their passenger was more likely to be wearing a helmet (P =0.0058). A majority of drivers were wearing closed-toe shoes (60%) with males more likely to be observed wearing protective shoes than females (<.0001). Conclusions: Research exploring strategies for increasing helmet use and among scooter operators at UF is indicated.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the methods used to conduct an observational field study. 2. Identify risk and protective behaviors associated with operating a scooter. 3. Assess the need for increasing helmet use by scooter operators/passengers among college students.

Keywords: Injury Risk, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator on this research project. I am currently a full professor in the Department of Health Education & Behavior at the University of Florida. I have authored or co-authored more than 50 refereed publications and authored or co-authored more than 90 papers presented at national and international professional scientific meetings. In the past 4 years, I have authored or co-authored 12 original data-based research articles based on data collected using observational and field survey methods. I hold a PhD in health education, a MPH in community health education, and a BA in health and safety education.
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.