The problem of the pillion rider: India's helmet law and New Delhi's exemption

Mamta Swaroop*, Selma Marie Siddiqui, Sushma Sagar, Marie L. Crandall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background In India, motorized two-wheeler (MTW) road traffic accidents injure or kill 72,000 women annually. Before the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988, which required mandatory helmet use for MTW riders, a study found 0.6% of all MTW pillions (backseat passengers) were helmeted. Citing religious protests to the legislation, Delhi's high court exempted the city's 12 million women from the law. We hypothesize that currently male pillions use helmets more frequently than females, and that overall pillion helmet usage has increased over the last 20 y. Methods Continuous video was recorded in half-hour blocks at four locations in Delhi on separate days, totaling 8 hours of high- and low-volume traffic. Videos were reviewed with at least two reviewers extracting the number of MTW pillions, as well as their gender, approximate age, and helmet usage. Results Of 4010 pillions identified, 63.8% were male, 32.4% female, and 3.3% children. Among males, there were significantly more helmeted pillions (88.4%, P < 0.001); among females, there were significantly more unhelmeted pillions (99.4%, P < 0.001). Among unhelmeted pillions, significantly more were female (81.4%) than male (P < 0.001). Current overall pillion helmet use is significantly higher than historical rate (P < 0.001). Conclusions The significantly higher male pillion helmet usage compared with females indicates Delhi's helmet law is associated with increased compliance among those who fall under its jurisdiction. This augments the growing body of evidence that mandatory helmet laws are efficacious, thus repealing the exemption of women is an important step in increasing female pillion helmet usage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-68
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Volume188
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2014

Keywords

  • Global surgery
  • Helmet use
  • Injury prevention
  • Motorized two-wheelers
  • Pillion riders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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