Testing the risk compensation hypothesis for safety helmets in alpine skiing and snowboarding.

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE: The prevalence of helmet use by alpine skiers and snowboarders was estimated and self-reports on risk taking were assessed to test for potential risk compensation when using helmets in these sports. SETTING: Skiers and snowboarders were observed and interviewed at 34 resorts in the western United States and Canada. SUBJECTS: Respondents were 1779 adult skiers and snowboarders in the 2003 ski season. OUTCOME MEASURES: Observations of helmet use and questions about perceived speed and degree of challenge when not wearing a helmet (helmet wearers) or in previous ski seasons (non-helmet wearers). RESULTS: Helmet wearers reported that they skied/snowboarded at slower speeds (OR = 0.64, p<0.05) and challenged themselves less (OR = 0.76, p<0.05) than non-helmet wearers. Adoption of safety helmets in 2003 (23%) continued to increase over 2002 (OR = 0.46, p<0.05) and 2001 (OR = 0.84, p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: No evidence of risk compensation among helmet wearers was found. Decisions to wear helmets may be part of a risk reduction orientation. Helmet use continues to trend upwards but adoption may be slowing.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Injury Prevention  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Adult, Attitude to Health, Canada, Decision Making, Female, Head Protective Devices, Health Behavior, Health Surveys, Humans, Male, Prevalence, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Risk-Taking, Safety, Skiing, United States
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Scott MD; Buller DB; Andersen PA; Walkosz BJ; Voeks JH; Dignan MB; Cutter GR
  • Start Page

  • 173
  • End Page

  • 177
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 3