Helmets slash KSI risk among cyclists, study finds

11.01 | 21 March 2019 | | 11 comments

Wearing protective headgear reduces the risk of cyclists being killed or seriously injured by 34%, according to research.

The study, published by the Institute of Transport Economics (Norway) in 2018, also suggests that wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of suffering a serious head injury by 60%.

The study analysed the effects of bicycle helmets on a variety of injuries, drawing on 55 previous studies carried out between 1989 and 2017.

The researchers also found that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury (53%) and face injury (23%). However, helmets were not found to have any statistically significant effect in reducing the likelihood of suffering a cervical spine injury.

The study also suggests that the positive effects of bicycle helmets may be ‘somewhat larger’ in locations where they are mandatory.

Helmets were found to have a ‘greater impact’ in offering protection to drunk cyclists and in single bicycle crashes, than in collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles.

The findings of the Norwegian study have been used by the Dutch road safety research foundation to predict that if all cyclists in the Netherlands wore a helmet, there would be 85 fewer road deaths each year.



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    As a person who received Traumatic Brain Injuries, in an assault. I can talk about them as a survivor.
    Helmets, do they work, yes they do, fact and common sense really. If they did not motorcyclist would not wear them builders would not wear them etc.
    Do they stop all head injuries and brain damage NO, they don’t but they reduce the severity of injury and stop a lot.
    It has nothing to do with anything else, cars falling in showers all the usual guff I hear.
    Is is like wearing a seat belt, do they stop all injuries NO they dont they reduce them.
    Its really that simple.
    Oh the Australian test has been rubbished as biased as it was loaded to give that result.

    Gary Kearney, Dublin
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Andy I don’t know about cyclist injuries but apparently some 8% of all motorcyclists injured suffer some form of head trauma. That may obviously vary between a mild concussion [ a brain shaking only] and perhaps a headache to a major fracture possibly involving arteries or veins with severe blood loss resulting in compression of the brain and possibly death.

    However is not possible to lose one’s life or suffer serious life threatening permanent damage if the injuries are confined to the hand, arm, elbow, shoulder, knees. If you have only suffered these injuries then you are lucky. However, if you have suffered them frequently in the past then maybe take a road safety course.

    One apparent slight knock on the head is all that it takes.

    Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

    Without demeaning the survey, it says that the risk of a head injury can be reduced by 60%, but what is the risk of head injury? In many years of cycling I fell off probably more than my fair share, but never landed on or injured my head.

    Heads injuries can obviously be more serious, but what about knees, elbows and hands – the parts of the body most likely to be injured in a fall but most often uncovered.

    Andy, Warwick
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    You are right, Rod, but of course the driver will be in a tin box and the headlights (plus hopefully the tail lights) will be on.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)


    It seems that stealth can be seen as an advantage for drivers.

    “With darkened windows, alluring alloys, black detailing and inky inlays, the Black Edition trim brings a stealthy style that makes an Audi even more extraordinary.”


    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    In response to the title, well, yes, it’s pretty obvious that wearing a helmet is likely to significantly reduce injury. My first emotion is why state the obvious or, even make a thing about it? But I have to say that down here in rural Somerset the thing which gets me is the culture of black and how, without high-viz, cyclists get lost in shadows or against dark foliage. It seems to me quite ludicrous that cyclists, and most particularly the keen regular riders, sustain this sort of culture. Came across one the other day in a 40mph dual carriageway (most drivers were doing well over that) in failing evening light who also had a piffling little rear flashing light, which was only really evident as one got close and certainly not appropriate for the prevailing traffic conditions. In my view that’s just asking for trouble. You have drivers only seeing him (or her) at the last minute and then dominoing into lane 2 often without proper reference to the faster traffic in L2. Apart from the potential conflict situation between vehicles, if such cyclists get knocked over I am afraid I have little sympathy for them.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
    Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

    Ah, the latest in a long line of helmet stories. I thought things had been quiet on this subject (Big Motor Corp must be feeling threatened by cycling again – just in time for the spring). Before this thread really gets going, it would be worthwhile if people read the following:


    If stats etc are going to used to call for more cycle helmet uptake and changes in the law, perhaps the “benefit” of car occupants wearing helmets (eg the infamous Australian one) should also be researched, reported on and debated in the same way. After all, head injuries suffered by car occupants are common, for example (there are other links):


    Andy, Birmingham
    Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

    “Your thought might be correct Martin. Maybe those that wear helmets already have a better understanding of safety and ride safer anyway. It’s called responsibility. (etc.)”

    Becasuse, yes, riding a motorcycle is so like riding a bicycle. One gets to 15mph in about 3 seconds, the other takes 3 minutes, the way most Dutch people ride them.

    And, surprise surprise, they make little use in the situations of greatest danger – with motor cars.

    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

    Your thought might be correct Martin. Maybe those that wear helmets already have a better understanding of safety and ride safer anyway. It’s called responsibility.

    It’s obviously above and beyond the comprehension of those who blatantly disregard helmets, not as a safety measure as one could assume but as one that they feel as being contrary to the promotion of people cycling as a whole.

    We motorcyclist had this problem leading up to 1973 when the legislations made it an offence not to wear a helmet but then again about 80% of the motorcycling fraternity were already wearing one and appreciating the benefits that it gave and no more bad hair days.

    Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

    I must find time to try and study this survey, but I was just wondering….do you think the kind of person who choses to wear a cycle helmet, might also be the kind of person to take less risks and perform more safely when cycling? Just a thought.

    Martin A, Ipswich
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

    Is there any comment in the report on whether the helmets were properly positioned and securely strapped on? In so many cases, they are not and so don’t have a significant crash benefit – much the same problem as with motorcycle helmets.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

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