Helmet law efficacy – Two responses

Two responses to D. Robinson’s 2005 study into helmet law efficacy perfectly summarise the helmet debate in Anglo-American countries.  (I say Anglo-American because there is almost universal rejection of helmet laws in non-English speaking countries.)

The first, Arguments Against Helmet Legislation are Flawed, is typical of helmet & helmet law supporters.  Numerous studies have shown that if involved in a crash, helmet wearing reduces the likelihood of serious head injury.  Other studies have shown a correlation between helmet wearing through enforcement and a reduction in cycling injuries.  Because helmets can be effective, they conclude that their use must be enforced and this enforcement has no negative effects.

The second, Determining True Effectiveness of Safety Measures, effectively captures our position that helmets are great but helmet laws are a disaster.  Regardless how effective a particular safety measure might be in theory, failure to demonstrate any real benefits in whole populations over time must necessarily call into question its true effectiveness—particularly when compulsion is involved.

If helmet laws worked (a very different claim from whether or not helmets work), then we should have seen a reduction in cyclist head injuries compared with non-cyclist head injuries.  Yet this is not the case.

If helmet laws worked, then we should have seen a reduction in the ratio of head to non-head injuries amongst cyclists (ie fewer head injuries for those that are in crashes).  Again, this is not the case.

And if helmet laws were a difference maker to cyclist safety, then cycling with a helmet in Australia wouldn’t be over 10 times more dangerous than cycling without a helmet in Europe.  But it is.

9 Comments

  • Numerous studies have shown that helmet wearing
    reduces the likelihood of serious head injury.   Helmet wearing  is a
    reduction in cycling injuries.  Because helmets can be effective, they conclude that their use must be enforced and this enforcement has no negative effects.

  • Har Davids says:

    Forcing people to wear a helmet and walk with their bike might even bring a bigger reduction. I live in Holland and hardly anyone wears a helmet. Look at our numbers in bikers’ casualties.

  • Har Davids says:

    Forcing people to wear a helmet and walk with their bike might even bring a bigger reduction. I live in Holland and hardly anyone wears a helmet. Look at our numbers in bikers’ casualties.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wearing a Helmet really helps motorcycle drivers to cause less injury or no injury at all. We can see that there are more bikers’ casualties in none wearing of the Helmet. They can be very helpful to not cause any physical Injury.

  • While accidents and deliberate injury are the most common causes of serious head injury there are also some occupations where the risk is more prevalent. 

  • Drivers of vehicles have to wear seat belts; drivers of motorcycles should have to wear helmets.Mandatory helmet laws are not coddling anyone. The individual who chooses not to wear a helmet and suffers a disabling injury is not the only person having to deal with the consequences.

  • I am looking for your more updates.Keep them coming.

  • John says:

    Last two links, the pdf regarding the ratio of head to non-head injuries, and cylcing being 10x more dangerous, no longer exist. Can we have these updated please? Or has the first article been retracted?

  • Bruce says:

    No clear evidence from countries that have
    enforced the wearing of helmets

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1410838/figure/

    This is all the evidence I need to decide this law must be repealed

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