Increasing Motorcycle Taxi Driver Conspicuity in Tanzania

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Sumner, Steven Allan


Thielman, Nathan M

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Motorcycle crash related injuries and deaths are increasing rapidly in many African nations. Utilizing conspicuity measures, such as wearing reflective, fluorescent safety vests, are effective as crash prevention strategies. Furthermore, use of some conspicuity measures is mandated by law among motorcycle-taxi drivers in Tanzania. Nonetheless, uptake remains low. Locally appropriate strategies to improve crash preventative behaviors are needed.

To explore whether use of conspicuity measures could be improved through eliminating cost-barriers, we tested a distribution strategy involving the provision of free motorcycle safety vests among a population of motorcycle-taxi drivers in Moshi, Tanzania. We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial among 180 motorcycle-taxi drivers in which half of the participants (90) were randomized to the intervention arm and received a free reflective vest. The other half of the participants (90) were randomized to the control arm and did not receive free vests. Whether motorcycle taxi drivers used the reflective vest was then unobtrusively observed on city streets over a period of three months.

Mixed-effects logistic regression was used to estimate differential uptake of the vests between trial arms. At baseline, 3.3% of individuals in both arms used a reflective vest. In three months of follow-up, 79 drivers in the intervention arm and 82 drivers in the control arm were able to be observed. In the intervention arm the average proportion of observations during which drivers were observed to be using a reflective vest was 9.5%, compared to 2.0% in the control arm (odds ratio: 5.5, 95% confidence interval: 1.1-26.9, p-value: 0.04). Distribution of free reflective vests did lead to an increase in vest usage, however, the increase was minimal. Removing economic barriers alone appears insufficient to adequately improve adherence to conspicuity measures.






Sumner, Steven Allan (2014). Increasing Motorcycle Taxi Driver Conspicuity in Tanzania. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.