“To wear or not to wear, that is the question”

Note from Munky: I recently had to do a training course, on it I had to write an article about something I was interested in. So I wrote about cycling, well the wearing of helmet in particular. Thought it would look good posted here:

In March of 2009 a high court judge ruled that cyclists are partly to blame for their injuries if they fail to wear helmets, even if the accident is not their fault.

This ruling established a principle of “contributory negligence” in such cases involving cyclist trying to get compensation for injuries received during an accident. The ruling could mean that they receive up to 15% less compensation than before. The Judge is quoted as saying “There can be no doubt that the failure to wear a helmet may expose the cyclists to risk of greater injury”

In response Martin Porter a personal Injury Lawyer said “It’s really very worrying. It is a retrograde step to blame innocent cyclists for not wearing a helmet. By the same logic, pedestrians’ not wearing helmets are also at risk of contributing to their own injuries”

The British medial association, which wants cycling helmets to be made compulsory, said “Doctors working in A&E see at first hand the devastating impacts cycling injuries can have”.  Peter Hutchinson, a neurosurgeon has said: “Helmets act as a cushion and protect the skull. If you’re not wearing a helmet, there’s an increased chance of fracturing your skull and causing brain injury”

A standard helmet acts like a shock absorber, the shell dissipates the energy of an impact over a large area, whilst they do not provide the same level of protection as motor cyclist helmet it is easy to find lots of accounts of where “the helmet saved my life” from cyclists.  Research done has shown that the average cyclist would have to cycle for 3000 years to suffer serious brain injury – [Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation]

Borris Johnson, the mayor of London has been seen both wearing and not wearing helmets and has said that cyclists have the right to choose.

In Australia and New Zealand the wearing of helmets has been made compulsory under law and saw a drop in the number of cyclists by one-third but only a 10% drop in the number of head injury related cases. Where as the safest cities top cycle are Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where hardly anyone wears a helmet.

I feel that an adult should have the choice whether or not to wear a helmet and should equally take responsibility for the consequences of that choice, be it an injury from an accident or helmet hair. Children should be encouraged to wear helmets as they often lack the skills, balance and road sense and should be affording the extra protection
a helmet provides should they fall off or have an accident.


One Response

  1. Fortunately the judge’s comments were “obiter dicta”, i.e. not relevant to the case, nor do they set a precedent. They were a bit silly in view of the evidence on helmet laws, which have stopped a lot of people cycling and have done nothing for head injury rates, see http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=16565131 (Robinson’s work uses the best scientific methods, all available control groups and so on.) The only known connection between helmets and death is that helmets have strangled a few young children who were wearing helmets while playing off their bicycles.

    It’s far too dangerous not to cycle – regular cycling, Danish style, not too far, not too fast, nearly halves the death rate, see http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/160/11/1621. Bicycling is good for health, but bike helmets don’t seem to be.

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