Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Judge Questions Advantages of Bicycle Helmet Law

Recently, a judge in Australia overturned a citation issued to a woman ticketed for riding her bike without a helmet and acknowledged the on-going controversy regarding the effectiveness of bicycle helmets in reducing injury.  The bicyclist had been cited for violating a law requiring helmet use for adults.  She fought back arguing that she should have a choice as to whether to wear a helmet or not.  She argued that, "if she fell from her bike while wearing a helmet she would be at greater risk of brain damage from 'diffuse external injury'."  What that means is that when your helmeted head hits the ground at speed the helmet grips the road "twisting the head more quickly than if the skull were unprotected."  In such a way, she argued, helmet use may increased the likelihood of sustaining injury in a crash.  The appellate judge was persuaded stating, "I frankly don't think there is anything advantageous and there may well be a disadvantage in situations to have a helmet -- and it seems to me that it's one of those areas where it ought to be a matter of choice."  Click here to read the full story.

Before you get ready to chuck your helmet consider the full picture.  There is plenty of research that has found that helmet use does save lives, particularly when utilized by children.  A recent study of helmet use among children found that, “helmet laws significantly reduced bicycling fatalities among youths age 0-15 (i.e., youths who were directly treated by most states’ age-16 helmet laws) by about 19 percent.”

In Illinois helmet use among adults is not mandatory.  Also, in the context of a personal injury claim arising from a bike crash, lack of helmet use cannot be introduced as evidence that the bicyclist failed to take proper precautions to look out for his or her safety.


  1. While I encourage the use of helmets, I appreciate you pointing out that they are not mandatory even though I've seen a cop claim otherwise on TV.

  2. i think the author should lob over to and have a read.


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