The debate over whether cycle helmets should be made compulsory has been stirred up again with calls for laws to be introduced for junior riders.
The Paediatric Emergency Medicine Association voted yesterday (Thursday September 17th) for legislation forcing the under-16s to wear a helmet. The Association is attempting to cut the number of children who suffer serious brain injuries, with claims that helmets will reduce direct skull impact.
The calls come after the British Medical Association (BMA) has been seeking to increase the voluntary use of helmets in children and adults.
Speaking to Channel 4 news yesterday, the Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine’s Dr Ian Maconochie said: “The evidence is significant in terms of reducing direct brain injury at low impact velocity. The debate we had was extensive but the medical fraternity voted three to one in favour of having mandatory cycle helmet wearing.”
Dr Maconochie added: “It's estimated there are 90,000 accidents on the road every year in the UK involving bicycles and 100,000 off the road, 53 per cent of which involve children. In terms of traumatic brain injury about 52,000 children have suffered significant brain injury which requires additional support from the state so there are elements of how it affects society and individuals.”
The ‘compulsory helmets’ debate has been a hot topic for the cycle trade for some time, with high profile court cases spurring industry commentators to comment. Parts of the cycle press have had their say on the debate too, including Cycling Plus editor Rob Spedding, who has called for definitive research into the subject:
“Obviously we’re all for safe riding but there’s yet to be a definitive study which proves the argument either for or against helmet compulsion. I’ll readily admit that as a parent I do ensure that my daughter wears her helmet when she rides, and anecdotal evidence I’ve collected suggests that even parents who don’t wear helmets themselves tend to ensure that their children do. I think it’s more important that we encourage more children onto bikes.
"There is a real need for someone to produce the definitive scientific investigation which proves once and for all that compulsion is necessary.”