New study on helmet effectiveness

This sub-forum all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmets will be moved here, if not placed here correctly in the first place.
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horizon
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby horizon » 24 Sep 2016, 12:57pm

Hobbs1951 wrote:
I don't want to hijack the thread but I rarely hear discussed the issue of eye protection, and I often see helmet wearers wearing no eye protection at at all (that seems perverse) - save spectacle wearers.

I always wear technical eye protection on two wheels - whether powered by me or the wretched internal combustion engine - think how much damage that small stone or grit does to your car windscreen, or an insect in your eye ?



For eye protection to become as ubiquitous as helmet wearing. it would require the following:

1. Like helmets, it needs a group of large companies interested in promoting their product. TICK
2. Like helmets, it needs to become a fashion statement amongst role-model cyclists TICK
3. Like helmets, it needs to be thought by some people to prevent injury. TICK
4. Like helmets, it needs a background of injury stories. TICK
5. Like helmets, it needs a few "these glasses saved my sight!" stories. TICK
6. Like helmets, it needs the right mix of publicity and public concern to take off .... COMING SOON

And I note you've got the ball rolling! :wink:
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

Steady rider
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Steady rider » 24 Sep 2016, 3:50pm

The main author of the report, Jake Olivier, has made some questionable statements about cycle helmets and legislation, recently one article stated, ‘No strong evidence bicycle helmet legislation deter cycling’. He was being very selective in pushing this view, selecting states without extensive actual road survey data and not relating to surveys that did show strong evidence e.g. Melbourne road surveys revealed 30 more teenagers wearing helmets compared with 623 fewer cycling (based on 64 survey sites and 10 hours per survey) and NSW surveys showed 569 more children were wearing helmets compared with 2658 fewer cycling (based on more than 100 survey sites). For adults counted at road sites in NSW a 26% reduction occurred from 1991 to 1993, down from 5734 to 4251.

see
https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2016/205 ... rs-cycling
and
http://www.cycle-helmets.com/au-assessment-2015.pdf

Supporters of the Australian legislation also claim that cycling levels soon recovered but this is mainly based on inner city cycling levels that had a high population growth. See Fig 7 page 16 of the Au evaluation.

The method used in the meta analysis compares injuries/deaths by helmet wearers v non wearers but there are differences in behaviour in the two groups, see Table 19, page 23 for examples. Page 18 mentions the proportion in fatality cases that had been drinking, 10% for helmeted and 29% for non wearers. Table 22 page 35 provides details of the shoulder-upper limb to lower limb, ratio 0.621 for not worn and 0.968 for wearers, 55% higher for wearers. Watching the cycling on TV this year a number of cases occurred with a broken collar bone resulting from falls. The data suggests that wearers have a higher proportion of falls and this will change the overall proportion of head injuries compared to other injuries. The reports used in the meta analysis do not in general specify if the cyclist fell or was involved in a motor vehicle collision. It cannot be considered a reliable guide to overall safety.

Information concerning Jake Olivier evidence to the Senate;
http://crag.asn.au/helmet-fanatics-misl ... e-inquiry/

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Mick F
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Mick F » 24 Sep 2016, 4:01pm

Hobbs1951 wrote:.......... the issue of eye protection, and I often see helmet wearers wearing no eye protection at at all (that seems perverse) - save spectacle wearers ............... think how much damage that small stone or grit does to your car windscreen, or an insect in your eye ?
A few years ago, I was whizzing down our local hill - A390 - and was hit by a big dry leaf, full in the face. It nearly had me off. I was doing circa 40mph, and it hurt like hell. I braked and slowed down and then had to stop. It was a few minutes before I was ok to carry on home.
Since then, I've worn eye-wear and latterly real cycling glasses from Optilabs.

I don't wear a helmet BTW. :D
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Vorpal » 24 Sep 2016, 4:51pm

axel_knutt wrote:
Vorpal wrote:Helmet proponents would still argue that we should wear them because they help prevent head injury.


Yes but the issue is the distinction between saving lives and protecting the head from impacts, in which case you/they are begging the question.

The objective is to reduce deaths among cyclists, and preventing head injury is merely a putative means to that end. If we can conduct an experiment that will establish whether helmet wearing does indeed reduce deaths, then the issue of whether helmets prevent head injury becomes redundant. If it were shown that compulsory helmet legislation increases fatalities then the debate is over unless and until someone comes up with a means of preventing risk compensation.

I don't dispute there will be those who continue to argue, just as the Vatican continued contradicting Galileo for centuries, but the debate will be over in the same sense as it was in respect of heliocentricity.

I think that the fact that we've systematically avoided conducting this experiment for 40 years says all you need to know about the debate.

I think there are more inmportant things to spend money on. Even if helmets are effective, there are many things that are more important to cyclists' safety.

IMO, it's better to shift focus *off* helmets than to produce yet anotherr study that says something that pro-helmet campaigners don't wat to hear. They need to hear that doesn't matter, not that we should argue about it for another 40 years.
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Phil Fouracre » 24 Sep 2016, 5:31pm

axel_knutt wrote:
Phil Fouracre wrote:Er! Can I ask a question? How would you set about carrying out this experiment? :-) do you get everyone wearing a helmet and smash their heads into the gorund? Speaking, of course, as someone who has never felt the need to wear a magic hat.


As I said/linked above, the experiment has already been done! The question is: why in the last 40 years hasn't it been repeated enough times to establish whether the result is statistically reliable? Instead, we keep endlessly repeating studies that don't even address the issue.

They're systematically avoiding repeating the experiment that will answer the question because the first attempt gave them the answer they don't want, that's why the result was spun to look like the complete opposite of what it actually was.


Thanks for that, very educational.
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby axel_knutt » 24 Sep 2016, 5:53pm

Vorpal wrote:I think there are more inmportant things to spend money on.


Perhaps, but that applies even more to the irrelevant research they keep repeating. The risk we run is that one day we'll wake up to find the helmet lobby have got their way, and then there will be no going back. It happened with seatbelts.

If it served to educate the wider population about risk compensation, and demonstrate the existence of R/C to sceptics it would be worthwhile for that alone. There are other ideas waiting in the wings like shared space schemes which require a more open mind than many have at present.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Mike Sales
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Mike Sales » 24 Sep 2016, 6:00pm

I wrote earlier,
Mike Sales wrote:I tend to think that if any country does mandate them in the future the opportunity needs to be taken to do a proper before and after study, with the resources of a government.


This link posted above illustrates why I suggest this. The link quotes evidence from Olivier, one of the authors of this report, doing his best to create confusion about the reduction in cycling caused by the law.

“CHAIR: We do have some evidence. We have evidence relating to participation in cycling. We have evidence in relation to cycling accidents. One of you—I cannot recall which—said that cycling participation has not declined following introduction of mandatory helmet laws, and yet even here in Victoria 679 fewer teenage cyclists were counted in identical pre- and post-law surveys, but the number of teenage cyclists wearing helmets increased by only 30. Doesn’t this suggest that the main effect of the law was to discourage cycling rather than encourage helmet wearing?

Prof. Olivier : No.

CHAIR: Fewer cyclists, only 30 more helmets over pre and post? What does that suggest to you?

Prof. Olivier : If you are trying to estimate the prevalence of people cycling, you do not do it by standing on the street corner and counting. That is not a proper statistical method for estimating prevalence. We would not do that with infectious diseases. We would not do it with other diseases or any other health related thing. We would not just stand on a street corner and ask people: ‘Do you have HIV? Yes or no?’ and then do that over several years and count the number of times someone says yes. That is not how it is done. It is very weak data and, from other stuff that we have done and I have done with colleagues here, we know that, as the data has got stronger—there is not any ideal data around the time of the helmet legislations across the Australian states—and better in terms of quality, we do not find big drops in cycling. We do not find any significant changes in cycling.

CHAIR: But others do, so I am struggling to understand how you can be so positive.

Prof. Olivier : Because, as the data is better—

CHAIR: What data? Which data set are you relying on?

Prof. Olivier : The census data of hospitalisations in New South Wales.”


A method of assessing the numbers cycling agreed on before the enactment of a law would make this sort of prevarication harder. Helmeteers in Australia do try to deny that the law reduced cycling.

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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby wahoofish » 24 Sep 2016, 6:01pm

axel_knutt wrote:
Phil Fouracre wrote:Er! Can I ask a question? How would you set about carrying out this experiment? :-) do you get everyone wearing a helmet and smash their heads into the gorund? Speaking, of course, as someone who has never felt the need to wear a magic hat.


As I said/linked above, the experiment has already been done! The question is: why in the last 40 years hasn't it been repeated enough times to establish whether the result is statistically reliable? Instead, we keep endlessly repeating studies that don't even address the issue.

They're systematically avoiding repeating the experiment that will answer the question because the first attempt gave them the answer they don't want, that's why the result was spun to look like the complete opposite of what it actually was.



Glad you know the reason why the mysterious "they" are systematically avoiding repeating the experiment. Can you read all minds, or only their minds.


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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Cunobelin » 25 Sep 2016, 8:49am

Vorpal wrote:
axel_knutt wrote:
Vorpal wrote:Helmet proponents would still argue that we should wear them because they help prevent head injury.


Yes but the issue is the distinction between saving lives and protecting the head from impacts, in which case you/they are begging the question.

The objective is to reduce deaths among cyclists, and preventing head injury is merely a putative means to that end. If we can conduct an experiment that will establish whether helmet wearing does indeed reduce deaths, then the issue of whether helmets prevent head injury becomes redundant. If it were shown that compulsory helmet legislation increases fatalities then the debate is over unless and until someone comes up with a means of preventing risk compensation.

I don't dispute there will be those who continue to argue, just as the Vatican continued contradicting Galileo for centuries, but the debate will be over in the same sense as it was in respect of heliocentricity.

I think that the fact that we've systematically avoided conducting this experiment for 40 years says all you need to know about the debate.

I think there are more inmportant things to spend money on. Even if helmets are effective, there are many things that are more important to cyclists' safety.

IMO, it's better to shift focus *off* helmets than to produce yet anotherr study that says something that pro-helmet campaigners don't wat to hear. They need to hear that doesn't matter, not that we should argue about it for another 40 years.



As Meier Hillman pointed out in the 80's

If the pro-helmet lobby put as much time, effort, finance and zeal into promoting driver education, the public benefit would far outweigh any possible benefit from helmet use

Hobbs1951
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Hobbs1951 » 25 Sep 2016, 10:19am

Vorpal wrote:
I don't dispute there will be those who continue to argue, just as the Vatican continued contradicting Galileo for centuries, but the debate will be over in the same sense as it was in respect of heliocentricity.

Even if helmets are effective, there are many things that are more important to spend money on...


Apart from liking the Galileo reference, I do agree there are more important things to spend money on...they are EYES! Many on this forum appear (!) not to recognise this ?

Jon.

axel_knutt
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby axel_knutt » 25 Sep 2016, 11:44am

wahoofish wrote:Glad you know the reason why the mysterious "they" are systematically avoiding repeating the experiment. Can you read all minds, or only their minds.


I'm open to alternative explanations if you have any.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Mike Sales
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Mike Sales » 25 Sep 2016, 1:10pm

Thank you, Axel Knutt, for reminding me of that chapter of Adams's book.

I greatly enjoyed the way figures 1 and 2 dismantled a lying use of statistics and showed how statistics can be used to establish the truth.

I found Risk a very important book. It changed my view of the world.

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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby axel_knutt » 25 Sep 2016, 1:27pm

Mike Sales wrote:Thank you, Axel Knutt, for reminding me of that chapter of Adams's book.

I greatly enjoyed the way figures 1 and 2 dismantled a lying use of statistics and showed how statistics can be used to establish the truth.

I found Risk a very important book. It changed my view of the world.


I've said before, it ought to be a criminal offence not to read it, risk compensation is such common sense I can't see why people get so agitated about it. There were some motorists on the 'cyclists are stupid for not wearing helmets' soapbox recently, but when I tried them with the idea of risk compensation, their reaction was 'Oh good, more organ donors for us'.

As I said above, part of the reason I'm so frustrated that the NHTSA experiment has (apparently) never been repeated is that I think it could make risk compensation headline news.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
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Mike Sales
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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby Mike Sales » 25 Sep 2016, 1:37pm

axel_knutt wrote:I've said before, it ought to be a criminal offence not to read it, risk compensation is such common sense I can't see why people get so agitated about it. There were some motorists on the 'cyclists are stupid for not wearing helmets' soapbox recently, but when I tried them with the idea of risk compensation, their reaction was 'Oh good, more organ donors for us'.



As Roy Harper sang,

"You can lead a man to slaughter, but you're never going to make him think."

Many people are indeed very resistant to the idea of risk compensation, especially with reference to Road Safety. Even at the same time as they admit to it.
"I would never cycle without a helmet, I would feel unsafe, but I don't let wearing it affect how I cycle"!

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Re: New study on helmet effectiveness

Postby The utility cyclist » 26 Sep 2016, 6:44pm

the paper is here and free to access, it's such a massive crock
http://urbactiv.com/wp-content/uploads/ ... dyw153.pdf

Sue Knaup a civil engineer and founder of one street has this to say about it.

"I was most struck by the authors’ glaring support of Thompson, Rivara, Thompson (appears 26 times, mostly positive) and their clear opposition to Elvik (appears 23 times, all followed by discredit). For a paper like this to positively reference a study so clearly debunked as Thompson et al, immediately throws up a red flag.

I also noted that the authors are from Australia and most of those in the acknowledgments are from either Australia, Sweden, or the U.S. – all countries burdened with bike helmet laws and thus with a need to defend their stance. Also, regarding Australia, the advocates fighting their bike helmet law are gaining traction, so the timing of this paper is noteworthy. They even include a section on page 10 supporting mandatory bike helmet laws.

Drilling down into the paper, I found that they are very proud of using 40 “studies,” (of course compared to Elvik’s 20). However, their studies include compilations of data as long as they were “medically reported.” As we know, medical reports are often, if not usually flawed. Oddly, they also note police reports, which are terribly flawed.

They also happily include all head and face injuries of any severity, which as we know, can spike findings by including simple cuts and bruises. On top of that, any fatality that included any head injury, even with severe injuries in other parts of the body, was categorized as a head injury! Here’s the quote from page 3 under Methods: “Cycling fatalities with multiple injuries including the head were categorized as a head injury.”

Also, concussions were not considered severe, thus skewing data on brain injuries, most importantly, those with helmets. I find the distinction between “head injury” and “brain injury” in any of these papers/studies to be extremely important, because helmets cannot prevent brain injury, yet most people do not make this distinction. And this paper certainly works that misconception, not only the usual way by throwing around the two as if they are the same, but by blatantly shifting concussion data out of the severe category."