If this short film by James Cracknell does not convince you to wear a cycle helmet, nothing will. Please watch and wear that helmet.
James Cracknell claims in his video that if he had not been wearing a helmet his injuries would have been worse. However this is based on an assumption that the wearing of a helmet does not modify other risk factors. I know of two independent published studies, one from the UK and the other from the USA, where the wearing of a cycle helmet is associated with drivers giving cyclists less room when overtaking them. Thus the wearing of a helmet may in fact modify the behaviour of drivers and make it more likely that a close pass would occur.
Good to hear from you. I have also come across contrasting views on cycle helmets. The context for me is when I act for a cyclist involved in an accident who was not wearing a crash helmet. The Defendant will always argue that full compensation should not be paid to a cyclist without a helmet. However what they must show is that the injury would have been less severe with a helmet, and if they can prove the point the cyclist will be found to have contributed to their injury, that is contributory negligence. A percentage would be fixed to represent the contribution, and that percentage reduced from the compensation. I have not yet come across a Defendant who can successfully prove the point, and I think their problem is that cycle helmets are only designed for protection at low velocity. I suspect being seen is the best protection for a cyclist.
What Mr. Cracknall would have particularly benefited from was more overtaking space on the part of the vehicle that struck him. Studies in both the US and UK have shown that drivers overtake helmeted cyclists with less space than unhelmeted cyclists, so wearing something that has been demonstrated to reduce the clearances is not as clear cut a benefit as this message suggests. It is an anecdote, and the sum of all anecdotes makes up the whole population statistics that epidemiologists study. And they have yet to find any clear benefit for rates of serious injury arising from increasing helmet use.
Promoting helmet use has been shown to reduce cycling numbers. Increased cyclist numbers correlate remarkably well with lower accident rates.
You’re a lawyer, but you think people should make a judgement based on one ancedote rather than on sound evidence? This is quite disturbing. For me, the question is not whether a helmet would help me if I had exactly the same collision as Cracknell; the question is, is the expected benefit positive? There is no solid argument for positive benefit – or for negative benefit, for which there is also some argument. I wear one because the evidence of harm is possibly a bit weaker than the evidence for benefit, and it makes me feel safer (and therefore makes me act more dangerously, but that’s another complication).
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