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3601 C Street, Suite 222Anchorage, AK 99503

Mailing Address
PO Box 240249
Anchorage, AK 99524

FAX
907-269-2041

Helmet Safety Program:
Snow Machines & ATV

Data

Snow Machine Rider Helmet Observations 2006

May 9, 2006

This report is prepared in accordance with contract #069365 - Helmet Observation Study, for the Section of Injury Prevention & Emergency Medical Services, Division of Public Health, Alaska Department of Health & Social Services, under the direction of Gordon Glaser, Project Officer.

Alaska Snow Machine Helmet Observational Surveys
January – April 2006
Ron Perkins, MPH

This project segment documented helmet use by snow machine riders in various locations across Alaska. 

Snow Machine Rider Observations

A baseline observation survey of snow machine rider’s helmet use was conducted during the winter of 2001 by the Alaska Injury Prevention Center.  The communities surveyed in 2001 were Anchorage, Bethel, Dillingham, Fairbanks and Kotzebue.

The communities surveyed during the 2006 observational surveys included:

  • Anchorage
  • Bethel
  • Dillingham
  • Fairbanks
  • Kenai/Soldotna
  • Kotzebue
  • u
  • McGrath
  • Nome
  • Tanana

More communities were surveyed in 2006 than in 2001, and more than twice the number of observations were completed.  Observers documented the date, time, temperature, and location for each 1-2 hour survey period.  They would then observe the number of snow machines, riders, passengers and helmet use for each.  Care was taken not to make duplicate counts of the same machines during a survey period. 

The snow machine rider observations were conducted from late January through early April 2006.   We had a late start for the snow machine observations due to contracting details, and finding reliable observers in each community.  Other challenges came from the extremely cold weather in late January, which was -30 to -50 degrees below zero in much of Alaska.  We chose not to survey during this cold spell due to concern for observer safety and a lack of riders.  The Anchorage area had a general lack of snow until mid February.

There was a total of 2,209 observations in 2006, which compares to 1,101 observations in the 2001 study.  The 2006 average usage rate for the communities surveyed was 57%, compared to 50% in 2001. Since there were different sample sizes in each community, the percentages of helmet use were summed and averaged to get the statewide averages. This procedure was also used on the 2001 data so the results would be comparable.

The greatest disparity in helmet usage was found when comparing urban and rural riders. The urban areas (Anchorage, MatSu, and Fairbanks) had an average helmet usage of 81% while the rural areas had an average of 47%. When comparing the communities surveyed in 2001 and 2006, helmet use increased in every community surveyed, with the exception of the Anchorage/MatSu area, which decreased 9%. The remaining communities had increases of 8% to 125%. Kotzebue had the greatest increase in helmet use at 125%. Dillingham and Fairbanks had the smallest increases at 8% and 9%.

The helmet usage rates for all of the age groups increased from 2001. Adults increased 15%, teens increased 16%, and children (<13 yoa) increased by only 6%. Dillingham and Fairbanks had no children observed, while of the observed children in MatSu were wearing helmets (n=17). The statewide helmet use percentages showed adults at 53%, teens at 64%, and children at 52%. Surprisingly teens had the highest usage of the three age groups in 2001 and in 2006.

All snow machines had a “rider” or driver, but surveyors also documented whether there was a “passenger” on the machine.  A total of 54% of the drivers wore a helmet and only 31% of the passengers.  Observers also documented whether the survey site was located within the community or outside of the community, 61% of the drivers outside of the community were wearing a helmet and 40% of the drivers “in” the community were helmeted.  Only 23% of the passengers observed within the communities were helmeted and 35% of the passengers outside the communities were helmeted.

SUMMARY

The 2006 survey had twice the number of communities and twice the number of observations as did the 2001 survey.  Observed snow machine helmet usage increased in the communities surveyed over the past 5 years.  Some individual communities have seen an increase of 8-9% while the greatest increase for a community was 125% (Kotzebue).  The average usage rate for males, at 58%, is nearly the same as the average rate for females at 55%.  Of the three age groups surveyed, teens had the highest usage rate at 64%, with adults and children at 53% and 52% respectively.

As hypothesized, the total riders observed riding “in town” had lower helmet usage (37%) than the riders observed riding “out of town” (56%).  Drivers had an average of 54% usage rate, while passengers had an average rate of only 31%.  The usage rate for “in town” passengers was the low at 23%, while the drivers “out of town” was the high at 61%.

Snow Machine Helmet Use Analysis — WINTER 2006 

 

 

   HELMETS WORN

Helmets Worn by AGE GROUP

CITY

Observed

Yes

No

%yes

Adult

Teen

Child

Anchorage

175

111

64

63%

64%

71%

48%

Bethel

681

117

564

17%

3%

40%

11%

Dillingham

90

58

32

64%

50%

78%

n/a

Fairbanks

134

115

19

86%

85%

100%

n/a

Kenai Pen.

106

93

13

88%

82%

95%

100%

Kotzebue

257

46

211

18%

17%

16%

37%

Su

362

339

23

94%

93%

94%

100%

McGrath

53

9

44

17%

12%

21%

22%

Nome

187

154

33

82%

74%

94%

100%

Tanana

164

71

93

43%

47%

33%

0%

 

2209

 

 

57%

53%

64%

52%

COMPARISON Communities — WINTER 2001 & 2006

 

          HELMETS WORN 2001

         HELMETS WORN 2006

CITY

Observed

Yes

No

%yes

Observed

Yes

No

%yes

Anchorage

194

178

16

92%

537

450

87

84%

Bethel

424

54

370

13%

681

117

564

17%

Dillingham

127

75

52

59%

90

58

32

64%

Fairbanks

238

189

49

79%

134

115

19

86%

Kotzebue

118

10

108

8%

257

46

211

18%

 

Ave. Total - Yes

50%

Ave. Total - Yes

54%

Helmets Worn — 2006 by gender

CITY

Observed

SEX

Yes

No

%yes

Anchorage

150

M

97

53

65%

 

25

F

14

11

56%

Bethel

520

M

91

429

18%

 

161

F

26

135

16%

Dillingham

74

M

47

27

64%

 

16

F

11

5

69%

Fairbanks

50

M

37

13

74%

 

27

F

26

1

96%

Kenai Pen.

86

M

74

12

86%

 

18

F

17

1

94%

Kotzebue

157

M

26

131

17%

 

90

F

18

72

20%

Matsu

313

M

290

23

93%

 

49

F

49

0

100%

McGrath

28

M

8

20

29%

 

25

F

1

24

4%

Nome

151

M

126

25

83%

 

35

F

27

8

77%

Tanana

115

M

62

53

54%

 

49

F

9

40

18%

 

1644

M

 

 

58%

 

495

F

 

 

55%

Helmets Worn — 2006 by Age Group

CITY

Observed

AGE

Yes

No

%yes

Anchorage

119

Adult

76

43

64%

 

35

Teen

25

10

71%

 

21

Child

10

11

48%

Bethel

383

Adult

13

370

3%

 

245

Teen

98

147

40%

 

53

Child

6

47

11%

Dillingham

44

Adult

22

22

50%

 

46

Teen

36

10

78%

 

0

Child

0

0

0%

Fairbanks

126

Adult

107

19

85%

 

8

Teen

8

0

100%

 

0

Child

0

0

0%

Kotzebue

174

Adult

29

145

17%

 

64

Teen

10

54

16%

 

19

Child

7

12

37%

Kenai Pen.

62

Adult

51

11

82%

 

39

Teen

37

2

95%

 

5

Child

5

0

100%

Matsu

262

Adult

244

18

93%

 

83

Teen

78

5

94%

 

17

Child

17

0

100%

McGrath

25

Adult

3

22

12%

 

19

Teen

4

15

21%

 

9

Child

2

7

22%

Nome

112

Adult

83

29

74%

 

68

Teen

64

4

94%

 

7

Child

7

0

100%

Tanana

128

Adult

60

68

47%

 

33

Teen

11

22

33%

 

3

Child

0

3

0%

Totals

1435

Adult

 

 

53%

 

640

Teen

 

 

64%

 

134

Child

 

 

52%

Top of Page

Alaska residents, Age 5-18, ATV, 1997-2001

Crosstabs: resregion — by sex

Alaska Trauma Registry: injuries leading to hospitalization, emergency department death, or transferred out to another acute care hospital.

Number

Female

Male

Totals

Aleutian-Pribilof

0

2

2

Bristol Bay

8

12

20

Copper River

0

1

1

Fairbanks NSB

4

9

13

Kenai Peninsula

4

12

16

Kodiak

3

12

15

Matanuska-Susitna

10

25

35

Anchorage

7

14

21

North Slope Borough

6

10

16

Northwest Arctic

6

14

20

Norton Sound

11

15

26

PWS

4

1

5

Rural Interior

3

9

12

Southeast AK

2

13

15

Yukon-Kuskokwim

16

20

36

Totals

84

169

253

 

33.2%

66.8%

100.0%