ASSESSING THE KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDES AND PRACTICES RELATED TO USE OF HELMETS AMONG COMMERCIAL MOTORCYCLE PASSENGERS IN MBARARA MUNICIPALITY, MBARARA DISTRICT.
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Introduction: Motorcycles are associated with the increase of road traffic injuries. Motorcycle related injuries are a cause of head injury, and disability in case of a crash. These head injuries are more severe if passengers do not use helmets. In spite of the risks involved while using a motorcycle, passengers’ helmet utilization remains very low. An assessment of the knowledge and attitude of commercial motorcycle passengers towards helmet use is thus necessary. Methodology: A cross sectional study was done, this employed both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected using structured questionnaires among commercial motorcycle passengers in the Central Business District. A sample size of 231 motorcycle passengers was interviewed. Quantitative data was entered and cleaned using epicollect® data collection software, and then exported to Stata® 13 for cleaning and analysis. Microsoft word and excel 2007 were used to generate descriptive statistical summaries. Results: Majority of the respondents 215/231 (93.1%) know that it is necessary to use a helmet. Most respondents are not aware of an existing law about helmet use 138/231 (59.1%). More than half 132/231 (57.1%) have not received or had any education related to helmet use. Most respondents reported that use of helmets depended on whether the rider provided it or not with 44/231(36.1%) respondents arguing that riders do not provide the helmets. Majority of the respondents strongly agree that helmets can protect users from severe head injury 127/231 (55.0%). More than half 117/231 (50.6%) agreed that if police enforced helmet use, they would wear them every time they used a motorcycle. Conclusion: There was generally low knowledge, negative attitude and low practices among motorcycle passengers regarding helmet use. In addition, a very small proportion of passengers was found to have owned or had ever used a helmet. However, this calls for community sensitization about helmet use that will improve their knowledge and consequently their attitudes and practices.