Road traffic accident fatalities lead to important private and social costs in the metropolitan areas of most low and middle income countries. An important share of these fatalities is due to injuries to the head and the neck. Helmets can provide efficient protection, but many drivers do not use them. We focus on helmet use behavior among motorbike users in Delhi. We use a detailed data set collected for the purpose of the study. To guide our empirical analysis, we rely on a model in which drivers decide on self-protection and self-insurance. The empirical findings suggest that risk-averse drivers are more likely to wear a helmet and that this has no systematic effect on speed. Helmet use also increases with education. Drivers who show a higher awareness of road risks seem to be both more likely to wear a helmet and to speed less. Controlling for risk awareness, we observe that drivers tend to compensate between speed and helmet use. The results can provide a basis for awareness-raising policies. They also show that improvements to the road infrastructure risk leading to risk-compensating behavior.

Commuting behavior, Delhi, Road accident risks, Safety, Traffic externalities, Urban policy,
Transportation Research. Part A: Policy & Practice
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Grimm, M, & Treibich, C. (2016). Why do some motorbike riders wear a helmet and others don't? Evidence from Delhi, India. Transportation Research. Part A: Policy & Practice, 88, 318–336. doi:10.1016/j.tra.2016.04.014