Volume 8, Issue 1 (January 2011)
Helmet Use and Self-Reported Risk Taking in Skiing and Snowboarding
The aim of this study is to examine the correlation between helmet use and on-slope ski conduct. During the months of February and March 2009, eight trained interviewers asked 1550 skiers and snowboarders at 20 ski resorts in the German and French speaking parts of Switzerland a series of questions. The skiers and snowboarders were asked about their reasons for wearing or not wearing a helmet and about their behavior and conduct on the slopes. Three categories of people were identified: (1) Helmet wearers, (2) those who do not wear a helmet but intend to buy one, and (3) those who do not wear a helmet and have no intention of buying one. After assessing the outcome of the survey by performing a variance analysis, significant differences were found between the self-reported on-slope conduct of the helmet wearers and those who choose not to wear a helmet. No difference in self-rated ski conduct was found between the two categories of people not wearing a helmet. A stepwise multivariate logistic regression was used to compare the different control factors on self-reported risk behavior. To summarize, by becoming a helmet wearer, skiers and snowboarders tend to demonstrate a greater degree of willingness to take risks on the slopes. For this reason, the theory of risk compensation cannot be entirely ruled out. More importantly, however, independent variables such as age, gender, number of falls per day, or years of experience were found to make a far greater contribution toward helping us understand a person’s willingness to take risks while skiing or snowboarding.