Cycle Helmet Safety
Helmets – why wear one?
Helmets are designed to absorb some of the impact energy that occurs if the head hits a solid object. The energy absorption, approximately 10-14 MPH, has the potential to make a difference to the injury outcome to the head/brain in many of the accidents that children and young people are involved in, such as stunt taking and falling due to immature cycling skills. The brain, which is the computer set up for the body, is vital for life. Just like a computer, if damaged the brain system could fail or malfunction and data such as simple learnt actions and memories are lost or affected and this could be permanent.
Do helmets work? The evidence and where to find it
There are hundreds of research papers that cover the use of helmets. There are also many websites that have been setup by people who claim to be ‘experts’ and providing information on the subject. There are always going to be those who oppose, for whatever their reasons, the use of cycle helmets as well as people who support them. The Cycle-Smart Foundation is not alone in its advocacy for children and young people to wear helmets. Others such as the Department for Transport, the British Medical Association, the World Health Organisation, the Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Headway and the Child Brain Injury Trust fully support the use of cycle helmets to help reduce cycle related head injuries.
The evidence; robust scientifically compiled research that has been peer reviewed and published in respected and internationally recognised journals and is the foundation for scientific evidence. There are many and we recommend that you review this evidence on sites that are respected for their scientific integrity such as The Cochrane Review Library, an international provider of scientific papers.
The Department for Transport commissioned a comprehensive report through the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) that was released in 2009. The report ‘The Potential for Cycle Helmets to Prevent Injury: A Review of the Evidence’ (TRL Report PPR 446) concluded, assuming that cycle helmets are a good fit and worn correctly, they could be expected to be effective in a range of accident conditions. The TRL in 2014 produced an updated report focussing on child cyclists The Jersey Scrutiny Review: The Compulsory Wearing of Cycle Helmets (TRL Report PPR 697. TRL Report PPR 446 and PPR 697 can be found at: www.trl.co.uk. For general information on helmet wearing and helmets we recommend the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Although American based, it is a consumer organisation and provides a host of useful information on all aspects of helmets and helmet wearing: helmets.org.