Helmet Doubts: Recent Evidence

פורסם: 3 בפבר׳ 2011, 10:36 על ידי: Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 4 בפבר׳ 2011, 1:18 ]

Wearing a cycle helmet may increase your risk of a collision, because drivers leave less of a gap when overtaking cyclists with helmets than those without, according to recent research.

Dr Ian Walker, a researcher in traffic psychology at the University of Bath, carried out experiments to measure how much space vehicles left when overtaking him. He found that, on average, drivers passed 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer when he was wearing a helmet than when he rode bare-headed. His findings are to be published in Accident Analysis and Prevention magazine.  (For more information and commentary on his findings, see CTC press release).

Dr Walker's research comes on the back of a a spate of recent evidence which casts doubts on the claimed benefits of cycle helmets, including four papers published in peer-reviewed medical journals:

  • The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a paper by Dorothy Robinson (a statistician at the University of New England, New South Wales in Australia) reviewing the effects of helmet laws in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Robinson shows that, despite significant increases in helmet-wearing, there was no greater improvement in cycle safety than for pedestrian safety over the same period. On the other hand, there were substantial reductions in cycle use, amounting to a significant loss of the health and other benefits of cycling. Robinson says: "This contradiction may be due to risk compensation, incorrect helmet wearing, reduced safety in numbers (injury rates per cyclist are lower when more people cycle), or bias in case control studies." (Read more on the BMJ helmet debate).
  • An article in Injury Prevention magazine by Paul Hewson finds no detectable relationship between helmet-rates and on-road cycle safety in Great Britain. A second article, also by Hewson (this one published in Accident Analysis and Prevention journal), reaches the same conclusion for child cyclists. Hewson emphasises that this doesn’t necessarily mean that helmets are ineffective; an alternative explanation is that there might be some benefits for particular groups and/or for particular types of cycling, and he points out that his own data cover on-road cycling only. However, he also argues that road safety professionals have no grounds for being involved in helmet promotion, given the lack of detectable benefits for on-road cyclists.
  • Another peer-reviewed paper on helmet laws in San Diego also finds no relationship between helmet-wearing rates and cycle safety.
  • Finally, a report on children’s cycling from the National Children’s Bureau includes a very useful appendix surveying the literature on helmets. It states, Those of us who cycle should be under no illusion that helmets offer reliable protection in crash situations where our lives may be in danger. Neither should we believe that widespread adoption of helmet wearing would see many fewer cyclists killed or permanently disabled. The evidence so far suggests otherwise. Coming from a children’s charity, this is an important finding.

This evidence all backs up the findings of a report from the SWOV Institute of Road Safety Research, The Netherlands in 2001, Promotion of mobility and safety of vulnerable road users (final report of the European research project PROMISING), which says:

“5.4.7. helmets

From the point of view of restrictiveness, even the official promotion of helmets may have negative consequences for bicycle use. If the importance of wearing a helmet is stressed, the implied message is that cycling is extraordinarily dangerous. [...] To prevent helmets having a negative effect on the use of bicycles, the best approach is to leave the promotion to the manufacturers and shopkeepers.

CTC hopes that Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick will take note of this evidence as he and his officials start work on a new 10-year Road Safety Strategy.

Source: CTC - UK's National Cyclist's Organisation

כתבות קשורות:

דיון בפורום אופניים ב"תפוז" בנושא חוק הקסדה - לחץ כאן
תגובות נבחרות במסגרת הדיון בפורום אופניים ב"תפוז": איגוד האופניים, ישראל בשביל אופניים, מימצאים ממדינות אחרות, 1,822,975 רוכבי אופניים בקופנהגן אינם טועים, נראה לכם שהאיש בתמונה חושש לרכב ללא קסדה?, באוסטרליה פרויקט ההשכרה נכשל בגלל חוק הקסדה
מצגת של איגוד הרוכבים הבריטי על בטיחות: Safety in Numbers