A new study has found that wearing a helmet reduces a cyclist’s chance of a serious head injury by nearly 70%, in the event of a collision.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia found that helmet use cut the chances of a head injury by 50%, a serious head injury by 69% and a fatal head injury by 65%. They also reduce the odds of injuries to the face by 33%.
Claims that bike helmets damaged the neck and caused serious brain injury were also found to be wrong in the study, which was headed up by statistician Dr Jake Olivier.
The researchers hope the results can ‘support the use of strategies to increase the uptake of bicycle helmets as part of a comprehensive cycling safety plan’.
First published on 22 July, the study which reviewed 64,000 injured cyclists worldwide, was presented to the international injury prevention conference, ‘Safety 2016’, in Finland on 20 September.
Dr Olivier also told the conference that wearing a helmet did not cause injuries to the neck, despite claims made in previous studies.
He said said his review found "pretty solid evidence that bike helmet use in a crash or fall significantly reduces injuries to head and serious head and facial injuries".
Dr Olivier stressed that helmets are designed to only protect the head and are not a “panacea for cycling safety".
In the UK, there is much debate over whether it should be mandatory for cyclists to wear helmets. At present, there is no law which requires them to do so, but in some other countries, including Australia, it is a legal requirement.