Study of behavior of two wheelers drivers towards helmet wearing, talking on cell phone while driving and driving with many pillion riders

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Poonam Mittal
Renuka Garg

Road fatalities are highest in India across the world. In India motorcyclists comprisehighest number of road traffic victims. Gujarat State owns highest numbers of twowheelers and accounts for nearly 5% of road accidents in the country. Surat- the diamond and silk city of Gujarat has more than 75% two wheelers in its registered vehicular fleet. Percentage share of motorcyclists in road accident deaths in Surat city in the year 2007-2009 has been ca 29%. The purpose of this paper is to study the risky behaviours of two wheeler drivers on roads and its causes. Qualitative approach comprising World Health Organization’s (WHO) frame work for observational study with modifications according to local constraints, focus group and in depth interviews has been used. Observation of two wheeler drivers on highways, rural roads and city roads were carried out in Surat district for one month. Observations pertained to wearing helmet, talking on cell phone and driving with more than one as pillion. Photographic evidences of risky behaviour of two wheeler drivers have also been collected.

A total of 101,444 observations were made. It was found that 80% motorcyclists did not wear helmet and many drove with more than one pillion. Motorcyclists of all age groups were seen talking on cell phone while driving. It was not restricted to youngsters or college goers as is generally thought of. City roads witnessed higher violation of traffic safety norms than highways. Also, two wheelers were used as a carriage vehicle for transporting gas cylinders, cloths, grains, milk containers, children, poultry, PVC pipes etc. Focus group saw a consensus on two key issues (i) peer pressures and (ii) youth related life style being responsible for risky behaviour. Similarly, four key issues emerged from in depth interviews with stakeholders: (i) unsafe practices displayed by other road users, (ii) environmental conditions and road characteristics, (iii) optimistic bias that ‘accidents happen to others’ and (iv) ignorance of outcome of their unsafe behavior promoted risky behaviour among motorcyclists. Interventions in the form of planned social change, communication and education is suggested for promoting safe road behaviour among two wheeler drivers.

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