Australia: Change to bicycle helmet laws could be a fatal mistake

November 29, 2013
Change to bicycle helmet laws could be a fatal mistake

Road safety researchers said a Queensland Parliament Committee Report recommendation letting adults off the hook from wearing bike helmets could result in a spike of potentially fatal head injuries.

Professor Narelle Haworth from QUT's Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q) said the report, which was handed down today, recommended trialling a 24-month exemption from bicycle helmet laws for cyclists aged over 16 riding in parks, on footpaths, shared or exclusive bike paths, or with of 60km/h or under.

"Head injuries are among the most horrific injuries to suffer," Professor Haworth said.

"Our data suggests that if the Committee's recommendation was implemented, then the total number of head injuries from bicycle crashes in Queensland could increase by up to 60 per cent.

"We also know that most cyclists don't ride on roads with speed limits over 60 km/h and so these roads only account for about 10 per cent of police-reported crashes. So requiring adults to wear helmets only on these high-speed roads is effectively the same as not requiring them at all."

The Committee recommendations were suggested as a way to help overcome public health issues such as obesity by making activities like cycling more attractive to adults.

"Helmet laws are very similar to laws regarding seatbelts," Professor Haworth said.

"Like seatbelts, helmets weren't popular at first but Australians are now used to the idea of wearing them and there's plenty of evidence to say the laws are working at reducing serious .

"Based on overseas experience we are concerned that helmet wearing rates for children will drop if it is not mandated for adults.

"You can buy an approved helmet from about $20 so I guess it's a matter of asking how much your brain is worth."

Explore further: Crash data shows cyclists with no helmets more likely to ride drunk

Related Stories

Bicycle helmets prevent fatal head injuries

October 15, 2012

Cyclists who died of a head injury were three times as likely to not be wearing a helmet compared with those who died of other injuries, according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

Exercise and vitamin D better together for heart health

April 27, 2017

Johns Hopkins researchers report that an analysis of survey responses and health records of more than 10,000 American adults for nearly 20 years suggests a "synergistic" link between exercise and good vitamin D levels in ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2013
Let them ride without a helmet provided they sign a waiver and *carry* an organ donor card...

IIRC, issuing donor cards was how UK's traffic cops persuaded all but a few hard-core bikers to wear 'lids'...
1 / 5 (1) Nov 29, 2013
They have no "data that shows" anything. Before helmet laws the rate of head injuries for pedestrians was about the same as for bikes. But on the positive side, helmet laws reduce bike use so the traffic moves more smoothly.
1 / 5 (1) Nov 29, 2013
Cyclists are a pain in the ass on the roads. The roads were designed for cars.
not rated yet Nov 30, 2013
Sometimes people need to be protected from themselves. Isn't that why American football players have to wear helmets in that overly rough game?
not rated yet Dec 01, 2013
I'll bet that none of the legislators ride bicycles.
Helmet laws are there to discourage cycling. Hence Taxi Mom, and Fat kids and huge medical expenses later in life.
Professor Narelle didn't take That little fact into consideration did she? No free pass Baby.
You will all be riding bicycles soon, anyway.
Is petrol going to me more expensive in 10 years, or less? Put your money on the table.
Get those skinny legs pedalling.
not rated yet Dec 01, 2013
Don't know about Australia, not there yet, BUT..

IIRC, issuing donor cards was how UK's traffic cops persuaded all but a few hard-core bikers to wear 'lids'...

Great idea Nik_Kelly

Egleton - Agreed

Sin - Most bicyclists either A) use their bicycles the same way you drive cars - they only see obstacles and feel they own the road and the rest of the universe, not people or B) ride occasionally for recreation and think they are safe. Either way, if they hit you, you might spill your coffee, if you hit them, (whose fault it is aside) you will be haunted by their death for the rest of your life.

Rude, small-minded trolls inhibit internet flow, same as hemorrhoids.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.