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Public Policy and Administration


Richard J. DeParis


AbstractMotorcyclists’ nonadherence to safety helmet regulations results in an increased risk of accidents, often leading to traumatic injuries or death. This noncompliance is prevalent in the rural and peri-urban areas of the developing world, particularly in Tamale, Ghana. The purpose of this qualitative case study research was to apply the theoretical framework of rational choice theory in the examination of motorcyclists’ considerations in deciding whether to comply with government safety helmet regulations. Motorcyclists in Tamale were convenience sampled for observation and a subset recruited for interview. The study followed the qualitative case study approach by conducting observations and in-depth face-to-face interviews for data collection. Of the 4,711 observed motorcyclists and 24 motorcyclists subsequently interviewed, the majority did not wear a safety helmet. Additionally, the template analysis approach was used to code and analyze the interview data. Key factors in motorcyclists’ decision not to wear a helmet largely stem from the discomfort of the helmet, impairment of riding, lack of effective enforcement, and the low level of safety helmet education. Based on these findings, it is recommended to aggressively disseminate motorcycle safety education programs, supplement law enforcement personnel, and implement new legislation to ensure ‘no helmet no entry’ into public places to encourage helmet use. Compliance with safety helmet regulations will minimize traumatic head injuries and deaths through motorcycle accidents, thereby preventing human and financial loss for the individual, family, society, and government and resulting in positive social change.