The largest review yet of bike helmet use by 64,000 injured cyclists worldwide has found helmets reduce the chances of a serious head injury by nearly 70 per cent.
Claims that bike helmets damaged the neck and caused serious brain injury (diffuse axonal injury) were also found to be wrong in the study by University of NSW statistician Dr Jake Olivier who presented on Tuesday to the international injury prevention conference Safety 2016 in Finland.
Advocates of mandatory helmet laws – which only exist in a small number of jurisdictions including New Zealand and Australia – hope the Australian research will debunk “junk science” often cited by helmet opponents in the ongoing and heated debate.
I am sure that cycle helmets do reduce head injuries in crashes. This is very good research dispelling the myth that they cause harm if worn in a crash.
However that does not mean that there should be a law making them compulsory, and that such laws increase the overall health of the population.
There have been numerous studies and reports concluding that mandatory helmet laws reduce overall health benefits. This is because that while they absolutely do reduce the severity of a crash on a cyclist, they result in far fewer people cycling. And cycling is healthy and reduces obesity and increases life expectancy.
Also some evidence mandatory laws increase risky behaviour.
I don’t think they should be compulsory in New Zealand. They should be a matter of education.