Arguments have long passed to and fro on the question of whether laws compelling the use of cycle helmets on public roads are a burden or a boon to the cycling community worldwide.
Past studies have pointed to helmets being of only very limited effect in preventing brain injury, while others argue that any compulsion to wear helmets has a detrimental effect on active cycling participation.
But now a major study completed by Australian academics Jake Olivier and Prudence Creighton from the University of New South Wales has concluded the cycle helmets reduce the risk of serious head and brain injury by almost 70%.
Drawing together data from numerous past studies, the report was presented in Finland this week at the Safety 2016 Conference on accident and injury prevention.
The study concluded that;
Helmet use is associated with odds reductions of 51% for head injury, 69% for serious head injury, 33% for face injury and 65% for fatal head injury. Injuries to the neck were rare and not associated with helmet use”.
These results suggest that strategies to increase the uptake of bicycle helmets should be considered along with injury prevention strategies as part of a comprehensive cycling safety plan”.
Many Australians have long argued that their laws compelling helmet use have resulted in reduced participation, which has a knock on effect on the wider physical health of the population.
Certainly, this latest report will add further weight to arguments in favour of bicycle helmets providing significant protection against serious head injury. Whether or not such arguments will sway governments to consider compulsion, given the potential for impacting upon wider participation, remains to be seen.