Helmet law halved child bike deaths

Posted: September 2, 2008 in cycling, Safety
Tags: , , , , , ,

Just came across this one on the news wires. Makes for some interesting reading. Am sure this will open the wound on the age old ‘helmet or no helmet’ debate:


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The number of bike-related deaths among children younger than 16 fell by more than half after a Canadian bike-helmet law went into effect, a new study shows.

The Ontario law, which came into force in October 1995, mandated that bicyclists younger than 18 wear a helmet.

Researchers found that in the seven years after the law went into effect, the number of bike-related deaths among children dropped by 52 percent. Between 1991 and 1995, there was an average of 13 such deaths per year; between 1996 and 2002, that number dropped to six.

In contrast, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics, there was no reduction in deaths among bicyclists age 16 and up — including adults, who were not subject to the helmet law.

“These findings support promotion of helmet use, enforcement of the existing law, and extension of the law to adult bicyclists,” write the researchers, led by Dr. Patricia C. Parkin of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

It is well-known that bike helmets can cut the risk of dying in a cycling accident, but the extent to which helmet laws reduce death rates has been less clear.

The current findings, according to Parkin’s team, suggest that Ontario’s law made a “significant contribution” to the lower child death rates seen in the years since its introduction.

I wonder if I should send this onto the girl at Giro following the email she sent to me when I was looking for helmet safety stats?

  1. wim harwig says:

    Do you ever read comments when you ask your blogreaders a serious question ?

    see; http://www.copenhagenize.com/2008/08/helmets-or-health.html

    keep cycling !

  2. Craig says:

    @Wim – I do read responses received to my blogs and I have taken a look at your blog. Now I am definitely a ‘bicycle advocate’ but at the same time, I am a big fan of wearing a helmet. This could be due to the fact that I have gone through three in my lifetime. Now don’t run away or ride away as you put it in your blog. Yes, I suffered massive concussion on all the occasions I crashed, but if you look at the damage done to my most recent helmet, you will see that where the branch/stick (whatever you want to call it) hit my head, if it was not for the helmet, it would have punctured my forehead. Now, to me that shows the helmet did its job perfectly. Maybe even saved my life?

    Any bump to the head, whether you are falling or however can result in brain damage and no helmet can prevent that. But the helmet can prevent the head from being penetrated by objects, as well as potentially absorbing some (or most) of the energy reducing the impact of the fall.

    The argument over whether to enforce the use of helmets will always stir up a debate as it takes away the free will of the person. Whatever happens in this regard, I know that I will always wear helmet. That is my choice!

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