Evaluation of New Zealand’s bicycle helmet law

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classic33

Legendary Member
Premature deaths
New Zealand (NZ) helmet law (all ages) came into effect from 1 January 1994. It followed Australian helmet laws, introduced in 1990–1992. Survey data from Australia indicated legislation was a poor approach as it discouraged cycling—e.g. child cycle use fell 44% by the second year of the helmet law in New South Wales, Australia.1

A NZ report from 1985 by Sage et al2 detailed that out of 20 bicycle riders fatally injured in Auckland, between 1974 and 1984, 16 died (80%) of injury to multiple organ systems and suggested that not many lives could be saved by wearing helmets.

The aim of the study was therefore to review the efficacy of the New Zealand’s bicycle helmet law in terms of safety, health, law enforcement, accident compensation, environmental issues and civil liberties.

Method
This evaluation reviews publically available data and analyses3–7,9 to assess the outcome for cycling activity levels, safety, health, law enforcement, accident compensation, environmental issues and civil liberties. The data compares cyclists to pedestrians and evaluates changes to population and road safety trends. A summary and conclusions draw together the findings and suggests the best way forward.

http://www.transport.govt.nz/research/Documents/Motor-Vehicle-Crashes-2010-Historical.pdf
 

Accy cyclist

Legendary Member
Some might argue that it also saves many more lives but as you point out 80% die from major organ injuries rather than head injuries. I saw one of those "reality tv" programmes about New Zealand and noticed that most cyclists had their helmets lazily tipped on the back of their heads. It seems a token gesture law and one that should be repealed.
 

deptfordmarmoset

Full time tea drinker
Location
Armonmy Way
It's probably worth posting up the very damning summary and conclusions:

Summary
The following trends were observed following the introduction of New Zealand’s helmet law:

  • Cycling usage reduced by 51%.
  • Cyclist’s injury risk per hour increased by 20–32%.
  • Estimated to have contributed to 53 premature deaths per year (due to reluctance to cycle and hence people not exercising).
  • Thousands of fines are issued annually for not wearing a helmet.
  • May contribute to discrimination in accident compensation and the legal processes.
  • Could have contributed to environmental pollution and environmental harm (due to use of vehicles in place of cycles).
  • Possibly diminishes civil liberties and human rights (by imposing a requirement to wear a helmet when several reports raise serious doubts whether they improve safety overall).
Is a mandatory cycle helmet requirement the best approach to promoting health and safety for the nation?

Conclusions
This evaluation of NZ’s bicycle helmet law finds it has failed in aspects of promoting cycling, safety, health, accident compensation, environmental issues and civil liberties. It is estimated to cost about 53 lives per year in premature deaths and result in thousands of fines plus legal aspects of discrimination in accident compensation cases. Road safety and cyclist’s safety should be improved by coherent policies, which support health, the environment, and without the legal requirement to wear a helmet.​
 

Venod

Eh up
Location
Yorkshire
1990 ? That was 25 years ago ! Attitudes towards helmets have changed a great deal since then. Nowadays most parents already insist that their kids wear them, and kids are used to seeing their cycling heroes wearing them, I reckon compulsion now in the UK will have a minimal effect on child cycle use.
That is an interesting point, although, I do wear a helmet sometimes, my grandchildren generally don't wear one but if asked to, have no problem in wearing one, I am anti compulsion and would not like it forced on us, but as Flick of the Elbow says are the kids that bothered that it will stop them cycling ?
 

Arrowfoot

Veteran
It one of those things where the bulk of sports injuries involve broken limbs, collar bones etc. and where statistics, debate and research are pretty much pointless. Despite it occurring rarely, anyone with a bit of common sense will wear a mouth guard for some sports and a male will wear a ball guard aka the box in others.

I don't wear a helmet riding to the local convenience store but all else there is the helmet. If it is not for me, its at least to save friends and families from attending an unnecessary funeral. I actually do remember the first time I don a helmet, I genuinely thoughts I looked a right proper sissy. Kept a low profile. Went for group gathering without one until I found safety in numbers. That was years ago.
 

shouldbeinbed

Rollin' along
Location
Manchester way
1990 ? That was 25 years ago ! Attitudes towards helmets have changed a great deal since then. Nowadays most parents already insist that their kids wear them, and kids are used to seeing their cycling heroes wearing them, I reckon compulsion now in the UK will have a minimal effect on child cycle use.
Yes but biologically the human body hasn't changed significantly in 25 years, it would be interesting to know the proportion of K(&SI) through head injury to that of the rest of the body, to see if the intervening time of compulsion and attitudenal adjustments; from all sides; towards cycling and helmet use has had a significant effect or if an unhealthy obsession with compelling helmet use is just a cheap, easy to implement and enforce distracting red herring in the efforts to keep more people on bikes alive and without life changing injuries.
 

midlife

Guru
Introduction of steel helmets in soldiers led to a massive rise in reported injuries, maybe its the same phenomenon?

Shaun
 

Sara_H

Guru
1990 ? That was 25 years ago ! Attitudes towards helmets have changed a great deal since then. Nowadays most parents already insist that their kids wear them, and kids are used to seeing their cycling heroes wearing them, I reckon compulsion now in the UK will have a minimal effect on child cycle use.
Interesting point.

I think the hardest group to convince would be adolescents.

I live and work with adolescents and my feeling is that the majority of them don't ride and would be less lonely to do so if forced to wear a helmet.

Speaking of my stepsons, they would lose a helmet within seconds of receiving it, so then would be unable to ride?

My own son wears a helmet when forced to by British Cycling, and this has influenced him and he often wears it when we're out pootling, though he doesn't stress about it if he forgets.
 

screenman

Legendary Member
"A NZ report from 1985 by Sage et al2 detailed that out of 20 bicycle riders fatally injured in Auckland, between 1974 and 1984, 16 died (80%) of injury to multiple organ systems and suggested that not many lives could be saved by wearing helmets."

When I read this line it said to me, that some lives could be saved, rather than not many could be. Does that make me a glass half full type of person?

I wear a helmet through choice and hope it stays that way.
 

srw

It's a bit more complicated than that...
It one of those things where the bulk of sports injuries involve broken limbs, collar bones etc. and where statistics, debate and research are pretty much pointless. Despite it occurring rarely, anyone with a bit of common sense will wear a mouth guard for some sports and a male will wear a ball guard aka the box in others.

I don't wear a helmet riding to the local convenience store but all else there is the helmet. If it is not for me, its at least to save friends and families from attending an unnecessary funeral. I actually do remember the first time I don a helmet, I genuinely thoughts I looked a right proper sissy. Kept a low profile. Went for group gathering without one until I found safety in numbers. That was years ago.
:popcorn:

I believe that's the traditional reply to that sort of post in this forum...
 
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