Subscribe Now Subscribe Today
Research Article

Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey

Kamarudin Ambak, Rozmi Ismail, Riza Atiq Ok Rahmat and Foad Shokri
Facebook Twitter Digg Reddit Linkedin StumbleUpon E-mail

The study was carried out to examine percentage of compliance rate regarding helmet used and to identify their characteristics. An observational method and a questionnaire survey were conducted among a group of motorcyclists in Selangor, Malaysia. The observations of 1150 motorcyclists show that only 46.6% used helmets properly, 10.6% untied helmet and 42.8% without-helmet. A random of 300 respondents those improper wearing helmet (either untied helmet or unhelmeted) were interviewed and asked to fill-up a questionnaire. The findings were discussed on background, motorcycling experience, knowledge and attitude of the respondents in details. The percentage of improper helmet usage in the locations of study was considered high and it seem those helmet initiative programs are insufficient to overcome the problem. Also, the characteristics of motorcyclist who did not wearing helmet properly (either unfastened or not wearing helmet) were identified. Therefore, there is need to introduce a new mechanism or method that can be utilized to incorporate behavior adaptation toward safety concern among motorcycle users. Finally, the direction of this study was explained in section of future work.

Related Articles in ASCI
Similar Articles in this Journal
Search in Google Scholar
View Citation
Report Citation

  How to cite this article:

Kamarudin Ambak, Rozmi Ismail, Riza Atiq Ok Rahmat and Foad Shokri, 2011. Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey. Journal of Applied Sciences, 11: 555-560.

DOI: 10.3923/jas.2011.555.560

Received: October 14, 2010; Accepted: November 26, 2010; Published: January 22, 2011


Road safety is one of public health concern and problem in Malaysia. Annually, according to Malaysian Royal Police (PDRM) reported more than 6000 people killed in road accidents. In 2007 alone, 6282 of fatalities were recorded. Of this figure, motorcyclist considers 50% that contribute as major victims (Royal Malaysian Police, 2009). Furthermore, motorcycle has become a common and popular in many developing countries (Conrad et al., 1996; Ambak et al., 2009). Also, it known as vulnerable road user in term of safety-risky exposure and instability compared to other vehicles. Many researches indicate that the major cause of death involving motorcycle users due to serious head injuries (Barbara et al., 1995 Kulanthayan et al., 2000; Radin et al., 2005; Shao, 2005; Zamani et al., 2009. Also, Royal Malaysian Police (2009) has reported that the most part of body injured lead to fatality is head by 65%. Safety helmet is the best equipment that can be used to protect motorcycle users from head injuries (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009; Radin et al., 2005; Shuaeib et al., 2002). Many studies shown that helmet is effective in preventing and reducing the severity of head injuries by 37 to 72% (David, 2007; Li-Ping et al., 2008) or deaths by 20 to 24% (Masao et al., 2003; Thomas, 2009).

Despite the safety helmet is the best protective equipment to prevent or reduce severity of head injuries, majority motorcycle user did not use or fasten it properly. There are several studies in developing countries found that the percentage of proper usage of helmet amongst motorcycle users is consider low. A study in Indonesia reported that only 55% of the riders wore helmets correctly (e.g., with chinstrap buckled). Similarly in Malaysia, 54.4% were used their helmet properly but alarmingly in Thailand only 22.6% motorcycle user used helmet since the enforcement of the helmet act in 1996 (Conrad et al., 1996; Kulanthayan et al., 2000). Surprisingly, several cities in Iran indicated that of the 92% of the motorcyclists, who owned a helmet, only 13% were using it. Study in some provinces of China shows that the rate of proper helmet use was low, with less than one-third of riders (32.3%) and only 15.3% of the passengers wearing a helmet correctly (Li-Ping et al., 2008; Zamani et al., 2009).

Radin et al. (2005) highlighted that Malaysian government has taken role of safety concern regarding helmet by implementing series of helmet initiatives in early seventies. A number of helmet of initiatives have been carried-out are: (1) Introduction of Motorcycle Safety Helmet Standard MS1 , (2) Implementation of Helmet Law in 1973, (3) Targeted safety helmet campaign in 1997 to date, (4) Regular helmet enforcement and checks (on-going) and (5) Newly implemented, Community Based Program in 2007 to date. The effectiveness of helmet initiatives was evaluated with a few studies. Radin et al. (2005) reported that since 1995, 1998 and 2000, the rate of proper usage of safety helmet was slightly increased by 33, 41 and 54%, respectively. It seems positively improve but the percentage rate was saturated at 66%. Also, this figure represent in average for both areas in urban and rural. However, the compliance rate in rural area still low as 30%, therefore extra effort is needed to increase their safety awareness (Kulanthayan et al., 2001). With regards to this problem, present study was conducted to examine the compliance rate of safety helmet particularly in countryside and housing estate area and to look details on characteristic of a group of motorcyclists in Selangor state.


Based on previous studies, we found that compliance rate of proper helmet usage in rural and outside-town area was low. So, we decided data collection activities were carried out within outside-town centre including countryside and housing estates areas. Selangor state was chosen as location of study due to this state recorded highest road accidents statistical report (Royal Malaysian Police, 2009) and Bangi was represents as typical suburban in the state. There are two methods were used for data collection in this study. The first method is observational on helmet usage among motorcycle users in their daily activities such as to sundry shop, working, send children to school and to worship place. The observation activities were carried out at six zones including three areas in countryside namely Dengkil, Sg. Tangkas and Bangi Lamaand three areas in housing estate namely Bangi S1, Bangi S5 and Bangi S8. A week of observation was carried out within 7.30 and 8.00 a.m. in the morning and at 5.30 and 6.00 p.m. in the evening. These two times is normal peak h that been used in the observation activity.

The second method, we employed face-to-face approached to each motorcyclist and asked them filled-up a self-administered questionnaires form. If they refuse to do so, another respondent were approached and prior to giving the questionnaire, the way they using a helmet were noted (either unfastened properly or with-out helmet) and recorded separately. The survey activities were carried out with a period of three months (06 February to 15 May 2010). For the data collection in survey activities, we divided six zones in the location of study. Three zones consist of a group number of section in housing estate (zone 1 Bangi S1-S4, zone 2 Bangi S5-S8 and zone 3: Tmn Kajang) and, three zones in countryside (zone 4 Dengkil, zone 5 Sg. Tangkas and zone 6 Bangi Lama) respectively. The questionnaire was designed with five sections: Section A: respondents’ background, Section B: motorcycling experience, Section C: knowledge and attitude, Section D: psychological model (Theory Planned Behavior, Health Belief Model and Technology Acceptance Model) and Section E: Feedback. The questionnaire was pre-tested on a target group of 20 motorcyclists at the study locations and to test the reliability and validity of the instruments. After analyzed, some modifications were made to improve the questionnaire. A sample size of 300 respondents were chosen to represent their general characteristics with response rate of 57% (out of 533 respondents were approached). This sample size is reasonably enough to analyze descriptive statistics, multivariate analysis and structural equation model. There are several studies that are using less than 300 of sample size, such as seatbelt use (N = 277) by Simsekoglu and Lajunen (2008), motorcyclists’ intention speed (N = 110) by Elliott (2010), drivers’ decision speed (N = 250) by Warner and Abreg (2006) and truck driver behavior (N = 232) by Poulter et al. (2008). Then, we used the Statistical Package for Social Sciences Software (SPSS) version 18 to coding and analyzing the data.


From observational study of 1150 motorcyclists, results show that only 46.9% used helmets properly, 10.8% untied helmet and 42.3% did not used helmet at all (Table 1). Housing estates area was recorded slightly higher in usage of helmet properly (54-64%) compared to in the countryside (28.5-39%). The finding in Table 2 shows that those who are riding in residential areas more likely to used helmet properly compared to those are riding in the countryside. Table 3 shows that female motorcyclists are more likely to used helmet (64%) compared to male motorcyclist (56%). This finding is statistically significant (p = 0.037) at 95% confidence level.

However, this study found that the compliance rates of proper helmet use among motorcyclists were considered low (47% in average) and alarmingly, in some zone as low as 29%. This finding similar with Kulanthayan et al. (2001) studied found that 54% of motorcyclists were used safety helmet properly.

Table 1: Helmet usage among motorcyclists at study locations
Image for - Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey
Note: Zone 1: Dengkil, Zone 2: Sg. Tangkas, Zone 3: Bangi Lama, Zone 4: Bangi S1, Zone 5: Bangi S5, Bangi S8

Table 2: Helmet usage by location
Image for - Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey
2 = 61.831, df = 1, p = 0.000 < 0.05)

Table 3: Helmet usage by gender
Image for - Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey
2 = 4.363, df = 1, p = 0.037 < 0.05)

In fact, their result showed at outside-town centre was only at 33%. Other studies, in Indonesia, Conrad et al. (1996) reported that only 55% of the riders wore helmets correctly for urban area and compliance behavior in the villages considering lower. In China, based on observational study shows, that the rate of proper helmet use was low, with less than one-third (32.3%) of riders (Li et al., 2008). In term of gender, present study shows female riders were more likely to use a helmet properly compared to male riders. This finding is in line with Kulanthayan et al. (2000) found that female riders used safety helmets more than male riders. Conversely, Hung et al. (2006) reported their studied in Vietnam, shown male drivers more likely to wear helmets than female drivers. They claimed that male riders were used more motorcycle compared with female riders.

Table 4a shows socio-demographic of the respondents and Table 4b shows respondents’ motorcycling experience. Table 4c shows about respondents’ general knowledge and attitude by using a likert scale (1 = strongly disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Not sure, 4 = Agree and 5 = Strongly agree) of 300 respondents were observed, 90% (270) of them were not wearing helmets and 10% (30) were untied helmets. Almost half (47%) of the respondents within age of 25 y and below and majority (98%) represent as Malay ethnic. More than 60% of the respondents completed secondary education level and half (52%) of them working in private sectors. Most respondents (43%) earned monthly income less than RM 1000 and 9.3% of the respondents consider as in middle income (RM 2000-3000). 54% of the respondents possessed a full license, but alarmingly 26% of the respondents were riding motorcycle without any license (Table 4a).

In term of motorcycling experience, half of them (53%) who rode motorcycle with over 6 years. Most respondents (60%) were riding within below 2 km and only 5.3% of them ride over 16 km to reach their destination. More than one-third (43% or 131) of the respondents involved in road accidents and 13% (17 out of 131) respondents had head injured. Majority respondents (81%) have a full shell type of helmet, 15% full face helmet and only 4% half-shell helmet. Majority respondents (93%) claimed that their helmets certified with SIRIM standard and only 7% did not. Almost 90% of the respondents did not experiencing stopped by police due to violate with helmet law.

Respondents were asked about their knowledge and attitude regarding proper helmet usage. Most respondents (44%) agreed that the lower enforcement make motorcycle users not comply with proper helmet usage and only one-third (36%) of the respondents agreed that RM100 (USD33) compound is still low. Fifty-six percents of the respondent strongly agreed that proper usage of helmet might prevent head from injuries. One-third (33%) of the respondents disagreed that proper usage of helmet only suitable for a long distance travels (more than 5 km). More than half (55%) of the respondents agreed that the helmet campaign program to create awareness were not succeeded. But, one-third (35%) of the respondents agreed that free-gift helmet program will improve compliance of safety helmet positively. However, the statement cultivating program on compliance of safety helmet is not covering in all community areas (such as school, worship place, community centre, etc.) was agreed by 55% of the respondents. Majority respondents (72%) disagreed with the statement a family is not playing important role in order to educate motorcyclist in complying proper helmet usage. Overall, finding show that the respondents have good enough knowledge and attitude regarding the importance of safety helmet. However, when it translated into their practice seems the other way around.

Based on self-reported helmet use, 36.3% (109) of the respondents were admitted they often wearing a helmet, 62.0% (186) were part time helmet user and only 1.7% (5) of them never used helmet.

Table 4a: Socio-demographic of respondents
Image for - Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey
*Exclude non-license

Table 5 presents the bivariate correlation analysis between self-reported helmet used and respondents’ knowledge and attitude.

Table 4b: Respondents’ experience of motorcycling
Image for - Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey

Table 4c: Descriptive statistical analysis on knowledge and attitude
Image for - Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey
*RM 100 compound is refer to normal rate that will be imposed to those who violating helmet law and maximum compound is up to RM 300 that issued by Royal Malaysian Police

Six of out ten items were asked and found statistical significance with self-reported of helmet use. There is a strong relationship (r = 0.366, p< 0.000) between the item associated with low compound and self-reported helmet use. This factor might influence motorcyclists’ behavior on compliance of helmet usage and they preferred to pay the compound. Unless, increase to a maximum compound (RM300) and strictly impose a penalty if they continuous violating the helmet law. Kulanthayan et al. (2001) found that the ability to predict enforcement activity is an influencing factor on compliance of safety helmet usage among motorcyclist.

Table 5: Bivariate correlation analysis on self-reported helmet use
Image for - Do Malaysian Motorcyclists Concern to Safety Helmet Usage: A Cross-sectional Survey

Similarly, Hung et al. (2006) stated that the absence of legislation and enforcement made motorcyclists in Vietnam will not wear a helmet. Also, they claimed that large variations in helmet use on roads with compulsory helmet use suggest that law enforcement of helmet legislation is not consistent.


This study presents part of result for on going research to develop a behavioral intention model toward proper helmet usage among motorcyclist. In future works, the behavioral sciences theories namely Theory Planned Behavior (TPB), Health Belief Model (HBM) and Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) will be used in understanding and identify the influencing factor in predicting proper usage of helmet. In TAM analysis, aprototype system (Safety Helmet Reminder) will be used in order to predict that such system could affect motorcyclists’ behavior and their acceptance. Ambak et al. (2009) suggested possibility to adapt and apply a seat belt reminder system into motorcycle as helmet reminder system. Similarly, Li et al. (2008) suggest that there is a need to implement new interventions to increase helmet use. Hopefully, this research may contribute a significant finding and method that be able to mitigate current problem in the country regarding motorcycle safety program.


This study was conducted to examine the compliance rate of helmet usage among motorcyclists in rural and outside town centre areas. The characteristics of motorcyclist who did not wearing helmet properly (either unfastened or not wearing helmet) were identified. Alarmingly, the percentage of improper helmet usage in the locations of study was considered high (52.8%) and it seem those helmet initiative programs namely helmet law enforcement, safety helmet campaign and Community Based Program are insufficient to overcome the problem.

There is need to introduce a new mechanism or method that can be utilized to incorporate behavior adaptation toward safety concern among motorcycle users. In future work, a psychological model namely TPB, HBM and TAM is to be used analyzed with Structural Equation Modeling technique. An integrated model is expected to be developed for predicting motorcyclists’ behavioral intention toward proper helmet usage.


The author would like to thank Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) and Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) of Malaysia who provide a scholarship for Ph.D studies and sponsoring this study.

1:  Ambak, K., R. Atiq and R. Ismail, 2009. Intelligent transports system for motorcycle safety and issues. Eur. J. Sci. Res., 28: 600-611.
Direct Link  |  

2:  Barbara, G., L.R. Khaty, E.H. Richard, C. Magdalena and S. Lorann, 1995. Relationship of helmet use and head injuries among motorcycle crash victims in El paso county, colorado, 1989-1990. Accident Anal. Prevention, 27: 363-369.
CrossRef  |  

3:  Conrad, P., Y.S. Bradshaw, R. Lamsudin, N. Kasniyah and C. Costello, 1996. Helmets, injuries and cultural definitions: Motorcycle injury in urban Indonesia. Accident Anal. Prevention, 28: 193-200.
CrossRef  |  

4:  David, J.H., 2007. Are helmet laws protecting young motorcyclists. J. Safety Res., 38: 329-336.
CrossRef  |  

5:  Elliott, M.A., 2010. Predicting motorcyclists intentions to speed: Effects of selected cognitions from the theory of planned behaviour, self-identity and social identity. Accident Anal. Prev., 42: 718-725.
CrossRef  |  

6:  Hung, D.V., M.R. Stevenson and R.Q. Ivers, 2006. Prevalence of helmet use among motorcycle riders in vietnam. Inj. Prev., 12: 409-413.
CrossRef  |  

7:  Kulanthayan, S., R.S. Umar, H.A. Hariza, M.T. Nasir and S. Harwant, 2000. Compliance of proper safety helmet usage in motorcyclists. Med. J. Malaysia, 55: 40-44.
PubMed  |  

8:  Kulanthayan, S., R.S. Umar, H.A. Hariza and M.T. Nasir, 2001. Modeling of compliance of motorcyclist to proper usage of safety helmet in Malaysia. J. Crash Prev. Inj. Control, 2: 239-246.
CrossRef  |  

9:  Li, G.L., L.P. Li and Q.E. Cai, 2008. Motorcycle helmet use in Southern China: An observational study. Traffic Inj. Prev., 9: 125-128.
CrossRef  |  

10:  Li, L.P., G.L. Li, Q.E. Cai, A.L. Zhang and S.K. Lo, 2008. Improper motorcycle helmet use in provincial areas of a developing country. Accident Anal. Prev., 40: 1937-1942.
CrossRef  |  

11:  Masao, I., C. Witaya and M. Eiji, 2003. Effect of the helmet act for motorcyclists in Thailand. Accident Anal. Prev., 35: 183-189.
CrossRef  |  

12:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009. An analysis of motorcycle helmet use in fatal crashes. Annals Emergency Med., 53: 501-501.
PubMed  |  

13:  Poulter, R.D., P. Chapman, P.A. Bibby, D.D. Clarke and D. Crundall, 2008. An application of the theory of planned behaviour to truck driving behaviour and compliance with regulations. Accident Anal. Prev., 40: 2058-2064.
CrossRef  |  

14:  Radin, U.R.S., K.C. Kulanthayan, T.H. Law, H. Ahmad, A.H. Musa and N.M.T. Mohd, 2005. Helmet initiative program in Malaysia. Pertanika J. Sci. Tech. Suppl., 13: 29-40.

15:  Royal Malaysian Police, 2009. Statistical Report on Road Accidents in Malaysia 2007. Traffic Branch, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.

16:  Keng, S.H., 2005. Helmet use and motorcycle fatalities in Taiwan. Accident Anal. Prev., 37: 349-355.
CrossRef  |  

17:  Simsekoglu, O. and T. Lajunen, 2008. Social psychology of seat belt use: A comparison of theory of planned behavior and health belief model. Transportation Res. Part F Traffic Psychol. Behav., 11: 181-191.
CrossRef  |  

18:  Thomas, S.D., 2009. Motorcycle helmets and traffic safety. J. Health Econ., 28: 398-412.
CrossRef  |  

19:  Warner, H.W. and L. Abreg, 2006. Drivers decision to speed: A study inspired by the theory of planned behaviour. Transportation Res. Part F Traffic Psychol. Behav., 9: 427-433.
CrossRef  |  

20:  Zamani, F.A., S. Nikami, E. Mohammadi, M. Ali, F. Ghofranipour, F. Ahmadi and B.S. Hejazi, 2009. Motorcyclists` reaction to safety helmet law: A qualitative study. BMC Public Health, 9: 393-393.
CrossRef  |  

21:  Shuaeib, F.M., A.M.S. Hamouda, R.S.R. Umar, M.M. Hamdan and M.S.J. Hashmi, 2002. Motorcycle helmet: Part 1. Biomechanics and computational issues. J. Mater. Process. Technol., 123: 406-421.
CrossRef  |  

©  2021 Science Alert. All Rights Reserved