Helmetless Bicyclists Three Times More Likely to Suffer Fatal Head Injury
A new study finds that bicyclists who don’t wear helmets while riding are three times more likely to die of head injuries, Wendy Gillis reports for thestar.com; previous studies have found that helmets prevent non-fatal head injuries as well. The study was published on Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reports Nina Lincoff for Healthline, and she adds: “The real question it seems to be, why isn’t everyone wearing a helmet?”
Toronto researchers studied 129 cycling fatalities of people 10 to 83 years old that occurred between January 2006 and December 2010 to arrive at their conclusions, Lincoff writes. Of those fatalities, 86% were men and 77% were caused by collisions with motor vehicles. Lincoff quotes the study’s author, Navindra Persaud, M.D., M.Sc., of St. Michael’s Hospital, who wears a helmet on those occasions when he rides a bike to work:
‘We’re trying to raise awareness to speak to the benefits of wearing a helmet and we hope that others will raise awareness as well,’ said Persaud in an interview with Healthline. ‘We hope that consideration will be given to tax breaks for people that will buy helmets.’ In some areas, safe bicycling practices are already in place. In Ontario, minors under 18 years old are required to wear helmets. The next step, says Persaud, is to put laws in place that require people of all ages to wear helmets.
Lincoff reports than in 2010, 218 bicyclists died in the U.S., and 52,000 suffered injuries; in Canada one cyclist dies every week.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), while some bicyclists are required to wear a helmet in 21 states and the District of Columbia (laws that apply only to young riders — often younger than 16), there is no bicycle helmet law in use in 29 states, including Colorado. There are local ordinances in a few other states that require helmets for some or all riders, IIHS notes. And the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute notes, there is no federal law in the U.S. requiring bicycle helmets.
In a May 23 post, this blog mentioned Colorado’s lack of a helmet law for bicycle riders as one reason it lags behind some states in safety, according to “The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report” released by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, developed in partnership with the Safe States Alliance and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Prevention:
Colorado had the 17th highest rate of injury-related deaths, according to the study, with 67.8 per 100,000 people suffering injury fatalities. The total lifetime medical costs due to fatal injury in the state were $25.6 million. Colorado scored five out of 10 key indicators of steps states can take to prevent injuries.
The report says that [part of why] Colorado falls short of some states [is] because it lacks primary seat belt laws, and universal helmet laws for motorcycle riders and for children riding bicycles.