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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

How do motorcyclists manage mental tensions of risky riding?

Shahrzad Bazargan-Hejazi1, Fereshteh Zamani-Alavijeh2*, David Hindman3, Esa Mohamadi4 and Mohsen Bazargan3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, & David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

2 Department of Public Health, Social Determinants of Health Research Center, Faculty of Health, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

3 Department of Family Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA 90059, USA

4 Department of Nursing, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:865  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-865

Published: 20 September 2013



Road traffic injuries, especially those involving motorcycles, are a particular concern in Iran. We aimed to identify the specific cognitive dissonances and consonances associated with risky riding among Iranian motorcyclists.


This was a grounded theory qualitative study of male motorcyclists who were ā‰„18 and were living in one of the three cities of Tehran, Isfahan and Ahwaz. Thirty four (nā€‰=ā€‰34) motorcyclists participated in 19 in-depth interviews and 5 focus-groups between January 2007 and February 2008.


We identified four categories of motorcycle riders each endorsing a unique risk bias they employed to justify their risky ridings. The categories included: (1) Risk Managers who justified risky riding by doubting that it would result in negative outcomes if they are competent riders. (2) Risk Utilizers who justified risky riding as functional and practical that would enable them to handle daily chores and responsibilities more efficiently. (3) Risk Calculators who justified risky riding by believing that it will help them to avoid road crashes. (4) Risk Takers who justified risky riding by arguing that risky riding is thrilling and brings them peer recognition.


Our findings reveal different groups of motorcyclists according to their different rationalizations for risky riding. Road safety advocates can benefit from our findings by matching relevant and appropriate interventions and incentives to these specific groups.