Perceptions regarding helmet use: a cross-sectional survey of female pillions in Karachi, Pakistan

Document Type







In 2011, road traffic injury-associated fatalities among motorized two-wheeler (MTW) pillion riders (backseat two-wheeler passengers) rose 30% in Karachi. Despite mandatory helmet laws, helmet use fell 20% the same year. This study aims to identify opinions of female pillions on helmet usage and whether various forms of media influence their self-perception.


Trained surveyors, using a survey tool used in similar studies in South Asia, conducted random, man-on-the-street interviews of 400 women in four areas of Karachi. Data pertaining to demographics, opinions on helmet laws, media influences, and helmet usage were collected. Data were analyzed in SAS 9.3 using chi-squared or Fisher's exact tests.


Of the 400 women, 98.8% (n = 394) reported never wearing a helmet while riding on a MTW as a pillion rider. Women with a postsecondary or higher (US ninth grade) education level were more likely to be aware of helmet laws (38.6%) than women with lower education levels (24.6%, P = 0.005). Most women (82.4%, n = 329) supported mandatory laws and 97% (n = 289) recognized that disability was the more likely to result than death in event of a traumatic brain injury. Nearly all (98.5%, n = 394) stated that they would use a helmet if they were men, regardless of age, education level, or employment status. Television news was the most influential media form (83.7%, n = 334), with most women finding it effective because of its informative nature (91.3%, n = 303).


Most Pakistani women do not personally use helmets when riding MTWs, yet most believe helmet use should be legally required for MTW riders and drivers. These data show that media outlets such as television can be used as a platform to educate the public about helmet usage, which may lead to improved helmet compliance among female MTW pillions in Pakistan. Furthermore, investigations into improved helmet comfort and appearance by collaborating with helmet manufacturers may have a positive impact on helmet use in Pakistan.

Publication (Name of Journal)

J Surg Res