JAM | Mar 1, 2024

60% of bikers not wearing helmets, study finds

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A recent motorcycle helmet study commissioned by the JN Foundation and the National Road Safety Council (NRSA) revealed that despite reflecting an 80 per cent ownership of helmets, 60 per cent of motorcycle users have indicated that they do not wear a helmet whenever riding.

Some 496 persons were interviewed in eight parishes.

The findings of the study support statements made recently by Dr Lucien Jones, chair of the National Road Safety Council, that data has shown that most motorcyclists who died in crashes in Jamaica were not wearing a helmet.

“Our data show that 90 per cent of motorcyclists who died on our roads were not wearing a helmet. The helmet use is not very high [in Jamaica],” he noted during a previous steering committee meeting.

The purpose of the JN Foundation study is to understand knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours related to road usage among motorcyclists, but also among all road users, including pillion riders, pedestrians, and public and private motor vehicle drivers.

Conrad Wiggan (second left), chairman of Island Bikers Association, explains how to check if a helmet is of the best quality to Parris Lyew-Ayee (left), vice-president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica; Dr Lucien Jones (centre), chairman, National Road Safety Council; Aggie Krasnolucka (second right), programme director, FIA Foundation; and Earl Jarrett (right), deputy chairman and CEO, JN Group. The occasion was the signing of an agreement for the National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project in August 2023 (Photo: Contributed)

Giving a breakdown of the 60 per cent, Kishka-Kaye Anderson, chief executive officer of Market Research Services Limited, said 21 per cent of motorcyclists interviewed wore a helmet sometimes when they ride; 21 per cent said most times when riding; and eight per cent said rarely wore a helmet when they ride and 10 per cent said, ‘never when I ride’.

“The 10 per cent that said they ‘never wear a helmet when they ride’ is of great concern,” she said.

“We pulled out those who said they don’t use a helmet every time they ride, and we wanted to find out why, and they said it depends on how far they are travelling. So, if they are going a short distance, they don’t think it is necessary or important to wear a helmet,” informed Anderson.

She said some of the other reasons cited by motorcycle users for not wearing a helmet include: it depends on where they were going (33 per cent); did not own a helmet (20 per cent); rushing and sometimes forgot (16 per cent); don’t like to use helmets (14 per cent); depends on the time of day they are riding (8 per cent); a helmet is uncomfortable (three per cent); helmet caused pain in the neck ( two per cent).

The findings of the research also showed that many of the respondents were aware of the importance of having protection-certified helmet, with protective padding from impact, face protection and a forehead guard.

The study was conducted in eight parishes – Kingston, St. Andrew, St Catherine, St James, Westmoreland, Clarendon, Manchester, and St Elizabeth.

The research was done to support the work of the National Helmet Wearing Coalition, which was established following the signing of an agreement among the JN Foundation, the National Road Safety Council, and the FIA Foundation, to execute the project.

The project has been mandated to advocate for increased helmet wearing among riders and pillions, the use of approved helmets, as well as stimulate the market for helmets.

The survey provides a baseline that will inform the work of the project going forward. A comprehensive stakeholder mapping and engagement exercise is also being undertaken to examine and understand the current situation relating to helmets and helmet-wearing in Jamaica.

This will be followed by the development of an action plan highlighting key milestones and policy objectives that will guide the activities of the National Helmet Wearing Coalition during and beyond the timeframe of the project.


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