Perceptions, barriers, and strategies regarding helmet use by female pillion riders in Pakistan: A qualitative study

Document Type



Emergency Medicine


Introduction: Despite the existence of a national motorcycle helmet law that applies to both riders and pillion riders, the use of helmets among female pillion riders is low in Pakistan. This study aimed to explore perceptions, barriers, and strategies related to helmet use by female pillion riders.
Methods: Data was collected from nine focus group discussions held with female pillion riders and male riders working at the Aga Khan University. Focus group discussions were transcribed verbatim and checked for accuracy before being imported into NVivo2. Transcriptions were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach.
Results: Four overarching themes emerged, including: (1) motorcycle as mode of transportation, (2) law on helmet use and its enforcement, (3) barriers to helmet use among female pillion riders, and (4) strategies to improve helmet use among female pillion riders. Female participants never wore a helmet or considered wearing it even though "safety" was the most important benefit of helmet usage expressed. The motorcycle is an economical mode of transportation for families, particularly those in the middle and lower socioeconomic groups. Helmet laws are not strictly enforced for pillion riders, including females. Possible barriers to helmet use among female pillion riders included discomfort in wearing a helmet, uninvited attention from others, concerns about physical appearance, and substandard quality and design of helmets. Suggested strategies for implementing helmet use among female pillion riders encompassed awareness generation through media, complementary distribution of helmets, strict law enforcement in the form of fines, and the influence of religious leaders regarding social norms and cultural barriers.
Conclusion: Motorcycles are a risky mode of transport, and there are several social and cultural barriers regarding helmet use by female pillion riders. Enforcing helmet laws for female pillion riders, raising awareness about helmet laws, and making helmet use among pillion riders a norm are some essential steps to take to promote helmet use among female pillion riders in Pakistan.


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