Campaigners for helmet choice are often asked “do you support seat belt laws”, as though this is relevant.  More relevant would be a question about laws forcing motor vehicle occupants to wear helmets, but somehow that subject isn’t of interest to medicos, law makers and others who profess to want to make our roads safer.

Seat belt law isn’t in our province of interest or knowledge, but what we do know is that there is no down-side to public health, better cities, resource depletion nor air pollution from making seat belts compulsory. Actually there might be a down-side to public health, because it’s possible that wearing seat belts encourages more dangerous driving, which increases risks for pedestrians and cyclists.  In contrast, bicycle helmet laws do reduce public health, do make cities’ roads and public transport more congested, do cause more fossil fuels to be burned which pollute the air with carcinogens and carbon dioxide. That’s because helmet laws discourage cycling.


  • John says:

    There is no way in the world people dont drive because they refuse to wear a seat belt. Please take this section off the website.

  • Zoom Strange says:

    My safest car has no driver’s seat-belt. Passenger belts I have fitted because passengers cannot make defensive driving choices. I can tell you as a matter of simple fact that driving risk awareness and behaviour changes with vulnerability. I suggest to the Johns of the world that we should all make better decisions about risk and have a wider range of choices. For a few years I used to daily ride a large motorcycle with no helmet in Greece, where personal safety is largely one’s own business, but when I caught myself getting overly lax about safety would spend the next day riding barefoot – that was enough. If the roads were wet or I was going to the ‘city’, I’d choose to put the helmet on.

    Back to the link with bicycling in SA, people base their decisions on what they know, and seeing the focus under helmet compulsion is punishment for non-compliance, the state needs to smarten it’s safety message up with sensible information which will lead to better choices, including helmet use. i still use the same motorcycle every day now here and if motorcycle helmet compulsion was lifted, I’d still wear it every day on those journeys. I wear a seat-belt because I have to in my other cars, but I drive the seat-belt less one the most carefully…

  • Michael says:

    Air bags have to a great extent made seat belts redundant, and if seat belts worked why have airbags? Get it?

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