A naturalistic observation study of road users and motorcycle helmet use rates in Antananarivo, Madagascar

Author(s): Silva, Randrianarisoa, Rajaonarintsoa, Perego, Siebert

Poster Presentation:




In Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital city, traffic is becoming more and more complex. As a result of increased motorization, news of road crashes appears frequently in local newspapers. Most victims mentioned are pedestrians and motorcyclists. Although an increasingly large share of motorized traffic in Madagascar consists of motorcycle and scooter riders, and despite the mandatory motorcycle helmet use, no data is available on this topic. ONG Lalana has worked on road safety issues for over 20 years.


Data collection and management is key to inform policy reform and road safety interventions. The goal of this research project was to register the movement of two-wheeled vehicles travelling in a selected location of Antananarivo and to produce data on the number of powered two-wheeler (PTW) drivers and passengers wearing helmets. ONG Lalana aimed to generate new knowledge that will contribute to improving the national road safety strategy and, in the long term, bring about positive change for road users in Madagascar.


This was a naturalistic observation study. The researchers used a camera in one of the main roads in the city (Route Circulaire), a ring road that connects the Southern and Eastern areas of Antananarivo to the city centre. A camera was installed, and the traffic was recorded every day for one week (25 February to 2 March 2020). The team made observations on the type of road users and helmet use among PTW riders (drivers and their passengers). The observations were carried out from 7am to 5pm. The software BORIS was used to register the observations on the video recordings.


Two-wheeled vehicles account for 23.5% of the vehicles in circulation observed, of which powered two-wheelers (PTW – scooters and motorcycles) represent 90%. We observed that 76% of PTW riders registered during this observation on this south-eastern part of Antananarivo’s ring road were wearing a helmet. However, more than half of their passengers were not wearing a helmet (52%).


One limitation of this research was the fact the camera was unable to distinguish the helmets in the dark, limiting the observation window. Results suggest that awareness and enforcement actions will have to be strengthened so that all PTW riders and passengers are aware of the road safety imperative of wearing a helmet. However, other questions also deserve to be raised and studied on the topic of PTW safety: standards of helmet use, road conditions, and PTW awareness of good driving practice and existing laws. Another important point to consider is the presence of pedestrians: our observations show that pedestrians represent 25.4% of road users at the observation site. Recent WHO figures estimate that 47% of deaths on Malagasy roads are pedestrians.


This first naturalistic observation study allowed us to draw a first picture of road users in Madagascar's capital and most populated city. As a follow-up, ONG Lalana will continue its research and actions in this field, with a view to improving road safety data available to national authorities and other relevant stakeholders, to support them in improving Madagascar's strategies for safer roads.