Risk-Taking Behaviors among Motorcyclists in Middle East Countries: A Case of Islamic Republic of Iran
Objective: Injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes in Middle Eastern countries are among the highest in the world. In Iran, road traffic crashes are the second most common cause of mortality. Particularly, motorcycle-related injuries among men are the second most common type of traffic-related crash in this country. This study used qualitative research methods to elicit and explore the personal experiences of Iranian motorcyclists in respect to factors that facilitate their engagement in risk-taking behaviors within the PRECEDE (predisposing, reinforcing, and enabling constructs in educational diagnosis, and evaluation) framework. Methods: Focus groups, in-depth interviews, and field observation were conducted among motorcyclists, pillion passengers, and police officers. Results: Our data show that being young and single, living in lower socioeconomic conditions, and suffering from poor physical health and daily stress influence risk-taking behaviors. Additionally, lack of defined traffic rules and regulations, the availability and accessibility of motorcycles among unlicensed underaged persons, the cost-effectiveness of motorcycle transportation, unsafe roads and a lack of special pathways for motorcycles, and aggressive car and van/truck drivers are among the enabling factors that provoke risk-taking behavior. Finally, the participants verified that the enjoyment of motorcycling reinforced their decision to continue engaging in risky behaviors, and being penalized for disobeying traffic laws prevented them from further risk-taking behaviors. Conclusion: Enabling and reinforcing factors to reduce risk-taking behaviors among motorcyclist could include (1) promoting smart driving practices among motorcyclists; (2) training pediatricians and emergency physicians to deliver brief motivational interventions to their young patients to avoid risky behaviors while riding; (3) training traffic enforcement officers to appreciate the value of providing consistent law enforcement services; (4) enhancing local efforts to increase the number of pathways for motorcyclists and improve the condition of deteriorated roads; (5) revising legislation and policies in association with motorcycle ownership among underaged and unlicensed individuals; (6) limiting an excessive number of passengers (particularly children) and cargo on motorcycles; and (7) identifying solutions to reduce the negative attitudes of car drivers toward motorcyclists and increase systematic compliance of traffic laws by motorcyclists and car drivers.