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A&E doctors demand that child cyclists be forced to wear helmets

Wednesday 23rd September 2009

Doctors are calling for children to be forced to wear helmets while cycling, according to a report in The Times.

The Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine (APEM), which represents accident and emergency specialists, has called on the Government to make it illegal for children under 16 to cycle without wearing head protection.

Cyclists are not obliged by law to wear helmets, even though studies suggest that their use can reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, brain injury by 88% and severe brain injury by 75%.

Doctors voted overwhelmingly to call for legislation at the College of Emergency Medicine’s annual conference in London.

John Heyworth, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: “I have seen a number of children with serious head injuries resulting from bicycle riding. It is extremely frustrating to know that the extent of these injuries could have been dramatically reduced had the child worn a helmet.”

A spokeswoman for the DfT said that the Government 'strongly encouraged' cyclists to wear a helmet, but that there are no plans to make this a legal requirement.

Click here to read the full Times Online news report.



 

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My observations in France (where cycling for recreation and for shopping trips, school journeys,etc appears to be much more prevalent that currently in UK), lead me to believe that helmet wearing is almost universal. This may be due to the influence of cycle road racing, in which helmet wearing is compulsory. (Everyone wants to look like their hero.)The only exception seems to be in cities, such as Toulouse, where electrically-assisted bicycles are widely available on loan for city centre journeys. Others may have a different take on this.
Brian RSGB

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It is disappointing that this story repeats the same failings as the newspaper story it is based on. The claims that helmets can reduce head injury by so much have been made by one study which is strongly disputed. Other reports supporting helmets have claimed much less benefit, and yet other reports have suggested that helmets can increase some forms of head injury. The case for helmets is far less clear than suggested - for more details see www.cyclehelmets.org/1027.html and www.whycycle.co.uk/safety_and_security/cycling_helmets/
David Sharp, Midlothian

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