While different countries have made it mandatory for motorbike riders to wear helmets, the same enthusiasm is not seen when it comes to mandating bicycle helmets. You could zip away on roads without wearing any protective wear, and while some zones have their own rules regarding it, they are rarely enforced. What adds to the problem is that many cyclists don’t consider it to be a risky activity and hence, don’t support the use of helmets.
However, wearing protective gear while cycling can save you from serious injuries and even spare your life! A study in Australia, involving 64,000 cyclists found that bicycle helmets can reduce the risks of serious head injuries by 70%.
The research, headed by statisticians Prudence Creighton and Jake Olivier from the University of New South Wales, reviewed over 40 separate international studies. They found that a helmet can increase the chances of survival in case of accidents- it reduced the risks of death in a crash by 65% and serious injuries by 69%. Helmets also cut back the chances of facial injury in almost over one-third of the cases.
The authors presented the findings of their study in Safety 2016 in Finland in front of an international audience. They focused on serious and life-threatening head injuries and found helmets to be effective in reducing such fatal consequences.
The study stated that helmet adoption resulted in a reduction of 51% for head injuries, 65% for fatal head injuries, 69% for serious head injuries and 33% for facial injuries. The findings build a strong case for mandating helmets for cyclists in different countries and increase their adoption rate. The study did not find any arguments which could support not using helmets.
What do Australia Cyclists Feel about It?
The legislation making helmets mandatory in Australia has been seen as a controversial topic by the cyclists. Many of them feel that the government needs to work on the safety aspect before making it mandatory to use helmets.
Geoff McLeod, a spokesperson of Freestyle Cyclists, said that he is not contesting the logic behind the implementation of helmets. But the way the Australian government is enforcing the move has discouraged many cyclists and pushing them away from the activity. He added that people could give up cycling which would have an adverse health effect.
According to a study, 16.5% people said that they would cycle more frequently if it were not for the helmet laws. The number of cyclists also dropped considerably when the helmet laws were introduced in the 1990s, according to an Australian Senate inquiry.
Another study conducted in 2015 by researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia could not establish any relation between helmet use and reduced head injuries. Some cyclists continue to believe that helmet laws deter cyclists and make the activity look dangerous. They think that the government should encourage cycling and provide them separate lanes and parks where safety is not compromised.