Cyclists – should you wear a helmet?
There is a continuing debate whether wearing a helmet whilst cycling should be a legal requirement in the UK. Currently it’s not, despite the protection that a cycle helmet can offer.
Helmets have been compulsory in Australia and New Zealand since around 1990. A few other countries have followed suit more recently. But research suggests that compulsory helmet use has deterred cyclists. Australia found that one year after the legislation was introduced; there was a 36% reduction in cycling levels. And nearly 4% of New Zealand’s population stopped cycling immediately.
Based on previous research, it is supposed that if it is compulsory to wear a helmet then it will have a negative impact on the number of cyclists on Britain’s roads. The government highlight that the health benefits far outweigh the risks of cycling incidents.
UK Walking and Cycling charity, Sustrans, said evidence is ‘inconclusive’ as to whether helmets make cycling safer… they believe it should be a personal choice whether to wear a cycle helmet or not, and for parents to make that choice for their children*.
‘’Given the concerns about obesity and the deaths related to physical inactivity, making it compulsory for people to wear helmets provides a deterrent to people wanting to cycle and also sends the message that travelling by bike is dangerous’’*.
Segregated cycling facilities, safer roads and 20mph limits in communities will support cyclists’ safety. But there are personal steps cyclists can take to reduce the seriousness of an injury if they find themselves in a collision… Wear a helmet.
Although a helmet will not offer you complete protection, it can minimise your chance of suffering a fatal or serious brain injury.
In 2017, 101 cyclists were killed and 3,698 seriously injured on Britain’s roads. A major study of cyclists and helmet usage worldwide, looking at over 64,000 cyclists, found that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of a serious head injury by nearly 70% and fatal injury by 65%*
Accidents can happen to anyone at any time. But there has been a series of cycling incidents involving children and adults that could have been a lot worse if they were not wearing a helmet.
- A 12-year-old girl was run over by a car on her way to school in 2016. Her pelvis was shattered in five places, and doctors say that her cycle helmet saved her life.
- A 50 year old male was hit by a car on a roundabout, thrown into the air and knocked unconscious after landing on the back of his head. He chipped a bone in his neck and suffered severe bruising to his lung, shoulder, hip and thigh. The doctors believe that if it wasn’t for his helmet, he would be dead.
More recently, a 15 year old nearly died when he was knocked off his bike. The teenager wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time. He suffered a major brain injury and was placed in a induced coma for 12 days. Part of his skull had to be removed and he had to learn how to talk again.
He is now calling for a change in the law to make it compulsory for anyone under the age of sixteen to wear a helmet. You can support Haydn’s Law by using the hashtag #WearAHelmet to help spread the word.
The human cost far outweighs the financial cost of a helmet. Hampson Hughes has seen first hand the life-changing impact a head injury can cause.
Advice: A helmet must be replaced immediately if you are involved in a collision that causes structural damage (or wear and tear). If not, the helmet may not perform as well because of internal weakness. You may be able to claim ‘out of pocket’ expenses to help towards the cost of a new helmet.
Road traffic accident compensation claims – expert advice
If you’ve been injured in a Road Traffic Accident as a cyclist, helmet or no helmet, you could be entitled to personal injury compensation.